I recently witnessed a three year old little guy in utter anguish over being served a burger that had been lovingly cut into bite-sized pieces. Turns out he had his heart set on a big boy burger—whole and complete with a bun. His bursting into tears over the disappointment of viewing the “little kid” bites on his plate made it abundantly obvious he was not happy.
While most of us don’t burst into tears when a negotiation doesn’t go our way or we encounter some unimaginable surprise, you can’t pretend you don’t have emotions! After all, you are human, and humans are emotional beings.
The burger incident reminds me of a situation a colleague shared with me. He was out of the country working while simultaneously negotiating a big deal with a hotel that he’d had a positive relationship with for some time. He had clearly communicated his goal of wanting the deal to come in at a firm $1,000,000.00. Having set that expectation much more clearly than my wee friend, he fully expected that goal to be met.
Being half way around the world there was a significant time difference. When he was able to connect by phone with the gal at the hotel, it was after a long day of demanding work. When she let him know that what she had been able to work out was $1,060,000.00 it really ticked him off. Now he didn’t burst into tears, but he did get angry and riled up. He immediately lost sight of the fact that the relationship had always been positive and began interacting in a way that didn’t hide his feelings about the situation.
Thankfully, midstream he caught himself. In light of the fact that the working relationship had always been positive, he was able to gather himself in the moment, which enabled him to get creative. With a few simple tweaks, a deal was made for the desired $1,000,000.00 and both went on to live happily ever after!
So why do I share these stories with you? Well, first I want you to realize that you have feelings and sometimes your feelings can get the best of you in the process of negotiating. You may have a better handle on your feelings than “burger boy,” but I promise your feelings are leaking out!
You have probably heard the advice “Leave your feelings at the door” when it comes to negotiating. I want to suggest that you do exactly the opposite! Feelings in and of themselves are not bad. They actually provide you with valuable information if you take the time to notice what they are telling you. And if you are able to observe the emotions aroused in the others at the negotiating table—all the better!
So how can you use your feelings in your FAVOR? Perhaps the FAVOR acronym will help you remember:
F = Frame of Mind
Are you aware of how are you feeling when you begin the bargaining process? What are you telling yourself? How are your feelings about negotiating in general influencing your negotiations?
Negotiating around matters or items that are extremely personal may influence your frame of mind; the need to hit a monthly target or the desire to make a big deal are examples of factors that you. You might even question your ability to negotiate effectively, which can be highly detrimental to making a great agreement.
Keep your frame of mind positive. There are a myriad of creative ways to come to an agreement—unless you get derailed by your emotions.
A = Anticipate the Unexpected
Like my colleague experienced, there will always be surprises when negotiating. The question is: Are you prepared to navigate those surprises? Do you know what you are expecting? How will you respond if the negotiation heads in an undesirable or unexpected direction? Do you know what your potential triggers are? I guarantee you have one or two or…
Your emotions are more powerful than facts. Because of this your emotions and the emotions of the others at the negotiating table can override the facts. That’s why it is critical that you know what sets off your emotions, and that you pay attention to the feelings of the other parties.
If you realize—like my colleague— that your emotions are getting the best of you, don’t be afraid to take a break. Stepping away from the negotiation for even just a few minutes will give you time to calm down and adjust your frame of mind.
V = Value the Clues
Emotions point to what’s really important. If you allow emotions to work in your favor, it can be a huge tipoff to what’s important to you, as well as provide invaluable clues about what’s important to the other parties. When you know what’s truly important, you can explore creative ways to demonstrate the value of those factors.
And remember, sometimes what’s most important is not actually more money, the time frame, etc. Sometimes what’s most important is respect, power, or identity—the intangibles!
O = Opportunity to Learn
If you really want your emotions to work in your favor, I challenge you to journal after you wrap up a negotiation. Notice what’s working? What’s not working? What did you learn? What will you do differently? And most importantly, how did you feel?
There will be some learning that takes place as you journal. To get the maximum benefit go back and periodically read your journal entries. Notice the patterns you see. Take to heart what you discover so you can actively make changes in how you handle future negotiations.
R = Rapport
It’s important to create a connection with those on the other side of the table, even when engaged in a negotiation where you might not ever see that person again and here’s why: You want to…
- Be in the habit of building rapport
- Actively invite the other parties to participate in the negotiation. Negotiation can be competitive or collaborative. The more collaborative your negotiations are, the more positively it will impact the rapport.
- Think long term – no need to burn bridges. After all, it’s a small world!
- Make better deals! Better deals take place when the rapport is positive—it enables both parties to be far more creative and willing to adjust to meet each other’s desires, and arrive at a win-win negotiation.
Rapport doesn’t just happen – it’s the result of intentionally cultivating positive feelings with the other party. Did you catch that? Positive feelings!
How will you let your feelings work in your FAVOR in future negotiations?