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Managed Emotions May Be the Key to Creative Problem Solving

- Let’s keep all emotions out of this!

- Let’s keep personalities out of this!

What do these phrases really mean?

-YOU keep your emotions out of this!

-YOU keep your personality out of this!


If one is a wise and effective negotiator, one knows that emotions and personalities are vital to any creative negotiation, BUT these emotions and personalities must be well managed.

The Formula for Expressing Feelings

A bad way to express feelings is to blame the other person for one’s feelings.


-You make me angry.

-You frustrate me.

-You confuse me.

First, one needs to own their feelings. THEY are allowing themselves to feel angry, frustrated, and confused. True, these feelings emanate from the behaviors of others. In the ideal, one is in control of one’s emotions and may not allow others’ behaviors to create these feelings.

Second, the receiver or the listener of these declarations usually do not listen beyond the target word YOU. This is accusatory and so the listener does not hear the real substance of the statement.

One can easily reframe this by using the “I feel, when people, because….”

- I feel angry when people arrive late, because it demonstrates disrespect.

- I feel frustrated when people give unclear instructions, because I don’t know the first step to take.

- I feel confused when I come to the meeting and there is no agenda, because I don’t know the purpose.

Using this formula, the listener actually hears the feelings first, then the behavior, and finally the reason.

Non-Feeling Statements

Often, people will feel an emotion and want to state that emotion, but they use a non-feeling declaration.

- I feel like you do not want this relationship.

- I feel like you don’t like me.

- I feel like you don’t want to play this game.

These statements do not convey the actual emotion and thus are ineffective in letting the listener know how one is feeling.

Express Emotions Accurately

First, sometimes it is vital to express one’s emotions during the negotiation.

Second, if one does, one needs to express these emotions accurately; that is, using the terms that best and exactly describes the emotion.

Third, most people don’t think about expressing their emotions accurately. So, when they do express emotions, an effective negotiator must be inquisitive and ask questions to discern exactly the emotion that is being felt and must be managed.

One might catalog feeling words into three categories: High, Medium, and Low.

Several examples:

1. Anger

- High: Enraged, infuriated, violent, bitter, vicious

- Medium: Irritated, discredited, ridiculed, mocked, slandered

- Low: Disgusted, miffed, irked, chagrined, dismayed

If one is a supervisor and one’s supervisee asserts:

-I am enraged about this program


-I am irritated about this program.


-I am miffed about this program.

What a difference. What a different reaction to these statements!

2. Confused

- High: Baffled, perplexed, confounded, trapped

- Medium: Helpless, flustered, troubled, foggy

- Low: Undecided, uncomfortable, uncertain

If one’s co-worker makes one of these feeling statements:

-I am baffled with this project!


-I am foggy about this project!


-I am uncomfortable about this project!

What a different reaction the co-worker who receives these statement might have. To the “baffled” statement, the co-worker might be wondering, "What on earth? You have been part of this project from the beginning." In contrast, if the co-worker hears the “uncomfortable” statement, they will probably ask, "What about this project makes you uncomfortable?"

What a difference!

Control You Emotions: Secret #81

Dr. Elaine F. Re in her celebrated book: 101 Secrets to Negotiating Success-Surefire Strategies for Negotiating Success in Every Area of Your Life, devoted one secret to controlling emotions.

Remember that the negotiation table is no place for a display of unplanned or unwarranted emotions. Even if it means sacrificing the deal…so never become defensive, hostile, or frustrated….

Notice the adjectives: unwarranted or unplanned.

So, what can you do to keep your emotions in check…it helps to have your plan on paper.This serves as an effective reminder of why you’re there-specifically, to work together to arrive at a mutually satisfactory agreement.

She further advises negotiators to take a break if emotions are running high.

Sometimes a break can release tension and give both sides a chance to calm down and regroup.

The Impact of Emotions on Negotiation

Author Brian Tracy in his book: Negotiation reminds the readers that emotion is a key factor in negotiations.

Everything you do to stay calm during a negotiation will help you to get a better deal. The most powerful emotion in negotiation is desire. Prepare yourself in advance for not achieving the object of your desire at all.

Greed is an emotion that might get in the way of rational decision-making.

Fear is the most dangerous of emotions. Indifference, and realizing that you might not achieve the result, might temper the fear.

Remember that the person who is the most emotionally involved in the achievement of a particular outcome is the one who has the least power.

Emotions are How Children Negotiate

How To Negotiate Like a Child-Unleash The Little Monster Within to Get Everything You Want, authored by Bill Adler, Jr., describes how effective children can be using emotions.

Example chapters include:

- Throwing a Tantrum

- Just Cry

- Act Forlorn

- Win Through Cuteness

- Be Nice

- Be Naïve

Readers need to examine why these emotions work and how to transform these into managed adult emotions.

Magic Persuasion Formula:

- Appeal to values

- Appeal to logic

- Appeal to emotions

Negotiation Case Studies That Show the Value of Emotions.

Sluggers Come Home, Stanford University School of Business

This case study revolves around a baseball stadium lease. Brothers Ted and Billy have renovated the old stadium and are ready to lease it to a baseball team. Ted and Billy are emotionally attached to the stadium that their dad built and they are emotionally tied to the sport of baseball. Viewers of scene one are left wondering whether the brothers are so emotional that they cannot negotiate effectively.

Luckily, the brothers have secured an accountant, Carla, who has just received her MBA. She brings a balance of logic, values, and emotion into their side of the negotiation. Together, they form a great team.

The love of baseball becomes a major reason that a creative settlement is reached.

The Power Screen aka Hacker Star Negotiation, Harvard University Law School

This case involves a business partnership between Hacker and Star. They argue over the ownership of the program called PowerScreen. In the negotiation, as they are discussing partnership terms and money, they remember fondly their old friendship and reminisce how the relationship used to operate. This emotional remembering transforms the negotiation leading to a well-crafted new partnership agreement.

The Red Devil Dog Lease Mediation, University of Missouri Law School

This is a negotiation/mediation between a landlord and tenant. Instead of merely talking the law, lease rate, etc, the parties began revealing their passions. The tenant had a passion for cooking and the landlord, helping entrepreneurs. This resulted in a creative agreement involving a new type of restaurant in which the landlord actually became invested.

Summary: In the cases above, emotions played a key role in securing the agreement.


Emotions and personalities are a part of every negotiation. Ignore them at one’s peril. Instead, view emotions as an opportunity to craft a creative agreement.


See Recommended Books under “Blogs” drop down menu. Clicking on any book will lead one to the discounted Amazon site.

Roy J. Lewicki is the author of 'Essentials of Negotiation', published 2015 under ISBN 9780077862466 and ISBN 0077862465. Publisher: McGraw Hill Higher Education

The Conflict Resolution Training Program, Leader’s Manual, ISBN: 0-7879-6077-2. Prudence Bowman Kestner and Larry Ray

5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.

Getting Your Way Every Day.


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