How To Make Sequential Deals During A Negotiation

How your last negotiation turned out may impact your next negotiation
How your last negotiation turned out may impact your next negotiation
Image Credit: Thomas Hawk

As negotiators, what we want most out of life is to be able to use our negotiation styles and negotiating techniques to close a deal with the other side that meets our needs. However, it turns out that there just might be something else that we really we really want – our next successful negotiation. Our need to move from one successful negotiation to another is something that can motivate us as we desire more and more “wins”. Is this really a good way for us to be operating?

The Problem With Being Successful

After we close a deal in negotiations, many negotiators often feel a sense of pride. Now it’s time for us to hang up the phone and move on to another negotiation with a different partner. You are feeling proud of how you handled the last negotiation and confident that this next negotiation will go just as well—but will this confidence work in your favor? Perhaps not, according to new research.

What the researchers have discovered is that emotions triggered by a particular situation can carry over and affect our decisions in subsequent negotiations. For example, if you have a minor car accident on your way to a negotiation, you may still feel angry when working on claiming value in negotiation and behave more aggressively than usual as a result. We tend to believe that we can put aside such “incidental emotions”—those that are incidental to the task at hand—and negotiate rationally, but it turns out that is not usually the case.

These incidental emotions may be particularly relevant to professionals who engage in sequential negotiations—that is, frequent negotiations with different individuals and organizations. Purchasing agents, sales representatives, lawyers, human resource professionals, and real estate agents often move from one negotiation to the next with little or no break. How we feel at the end of one negotiation – a concept known as subjective value – will trigger emotions that may spill over and affect our negotiation behavior with other sides in the future.

The Problem With Our Pride And Overconfidence

In their experiment, the researchers had business students play the role of a buyer or seller in a negotiation simulation multiple times in a row, each time facing a different counterpart. When participants had felt bad after closing the deal in negotiations, they tended to perform better on the negotiation that followed, the results showed. The opposite was also true: the better participants felt closing the deal in negotiations, the less effectively they performed in a subsequent negotiation.

So just exactly how can negotiators go about managing incidental emotions when closing the deal in negotiations? When determining how to close a deal, the following guidelines can help us manage the negative effects of incidental emotions when negotiating sequentially:

  • You should take breaks between negotiations. When possible, take time off following a negotiation to let your emotions such as pride dissipate, lest they carry over and hinder results in your next negotiation. Moreover, negotiation managers should be attuned to the carryover effects of emotion and give their employees flexibility over their negotiation scheduling.
  • Try to pinpoint the emotion’s source. Research has found that labeling the source of an incidental emotion can lessen its impact on our judgments and decisions. So if you are feeling prideful after closing the deal in negotiations, you should remind yourself that your mood is not necessarily relevant to your next negotiation situation.
  • Always strive for a humble mindset. Because pride from one negotiation can have unwanted consequences on our next one, it is recommended that we try to foster a more humble mindset after a success by asking ourselves what we would do differently in the next negotiation.

What All Of This Means For You

As negotiators there will be times that we are successful in our negotiations. When this happens, we will undoubtedly feel euphoric about the outcome of the negotiation. What we may not be aware of is the fact that this can have a negative impact on our next negotiation.

Research has shown that feeling good about a past principled negotiation may not help us in our next negotiation. Emotions can carry over into our next negotiation. We think that we can put our emotions aside, but we really can’t. Certain types of negotiators may be more affected by this than others. We can deal with this situation by taking breaks, understanding where our emotions are coming from, and trying to be humble.

Feeling good is something that every negotiator is always striving for. However, we need to understand that how we feel going into our next negotiation may have an impact on how that negotiation turns out. We need to understand the power of our emotions and attempt to try to keep them under control. If we are able to find a way to do this, then we’ll have a better chance of creating a string of successful negotiations.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: What would be a good way to step away from your last negotiation before you start your next negotiation?

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