Dealing with Difficult People During Negotiation

Mediating and negotiating with people can be a tough task. Emotional flooding, an experience where negative feelings overwhelm us, poses a hazard to negotiators because they may not be able to think clearly about the situation. Therefore, it is important for negotiators to be able to regulate their emotions. There are two forms of emotional regulation: suppression and reappraisal. Using one of these two emotional regulators can help negotiators deal with difficult people and difficult situations. Now, let us take a closer look at these two mechanisms and see which one negotiators should embrace.

Suppression is defined as, “controlling one’s emotions by not expressing them.” In other words, it means you are hiding your true feelings. When someone makes a rude comment about your personal life or makes any attempt to personally attack you, you may want to suppress your feelings and not give them more bait. However, researchers found that negotiators who suppress their feelings experience impaired cognitive processing. They  were also less liked by their colleagues, which means that less people were willing to work with them. Clearly, suppressing your emotions is not the answer to a successful negotiation. While regulating your emotions is important, completely suppressing your emotions may lead to isolation and less favorable solutions. In addition, you will still be faced with the problem of not being able to think clearly.

The second, and more successful, method of regulating emotions is through Reappraisal. Through this method, you can focus on a situation and anticipate your emotional response. This allows you to understand and feel your emotions, but at the same time allows you to regulate them.While suppressing emotions altogether is unwise for negotiators, reappraising them is a much more successful way to regulate them.

We hope negotiators will be able to look at the article referenced below and this blog post to help them deal with difficult people. As negotiators, it is inevitable that you will run into someone you find difficult to deal with. Instead of lashing out at them or completely suppressing your feelings, you can try to use the reappraisal method next time.

Source referenced: Harvard Law Program on Negotiation


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Rausch Mediation & Arbitration Services
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