Managing Your Anger While Negotiating

We need to understand that our anger can affect our negotiations
We need to understand that our anger can affect our negotiations Image Credit: Saurabh Vyas

Let’s face it, during a negotiation things don’t always go our way. When this happens, we can become upset. If we become really upset, then we may become angry. If we become angry, then our anger is probably going to get expressed in how we go about negotiating. The other side is going to see that we are angry and they are going to react to it. This can change the whole nature of your negotiation. What’s the best way to deal with your anger during a negotiation?

Is Anger During A Negotiation A Good Thing?

Research that has been done shows displays of anger can pay off for negotiators, at least when it comes to claiming value during a negotiation. Viewing angry negotiators as formidable opponents because of their negotiation styles or negotiating techniques, other negotiators respond to their demands by making concessions. However, the effects of anger in negotiation are far more complex. When practicing the art of negotiation, you need to follow these three guidelines, which show how displays of anger can backfire on you if you are not careful in how you go about using it.

Making False Displays of Anger Can Backfire On You

During a negotiation we might assume that when we want more from a counterpart, we only need to act angry and they’ll cave in. Not only is this a questionable negotiation behavior from an ethical perspective, but it may turn out to be an ineffective one also. A study was done that examined whether pretending to be angry has the same effect in negotiation as actual anger. After watching a video of an angry negotiator, participants were asked whether they would accept the person’s offer. Those who viewed an actor who seemed to really be angry were less demanding than those who viewed the actor affecting a neutral demeanor. In contrast, participants felt distrustful when their apparent counterpart appeared to be faking anger and, as a result, made higher demands than did those facing a neutral counterpart. These results suggest that unless you are a very good actor strategic displays of anger are likely to backfire if you are interested in building trust in negotiations.

Careful: Anger Can Lead To A Backlash

You need to realize that any short-term benefits of expressing your genuine anger may have hidden long-term costs. In a study participants conceded more to a counterpart who expressed anger in a sales negotiation than they did to a counterpart who behaved unemotionally. After the negotiation was over, participants who had negotiated with an angry counterpart were more likely than those who had negotiated with an emotionally neutral counterpart to assign onerous tasks to the other side. Participants who faced an angry person ended up feeling felt mistreated during the negotiation and later found ways to covertly retaliate when given the chance. When negotiating, you can gain a better deal by expressing anger, but you will face the threat of retaliation possibly in ways you won’t detect until later.

Be Aware That Anger Can Trigger Unethical Behavior

Anger can lead negotiators to make riskier choices and blame others when things go wrong. In a study it was found that anger also leads negotiators to behave more deceptively. In an experiment, those who had been primed to feel angry were more likely to deceptively exaggerate the generosity of an offer to their counterpart than were those who were primed to feel neutral. Anger reduced the participants’ empathy, making them more self-interested and caused them to be less ethical. Interestingly, the anger that participants in the study felt in these studies was unrelated to the other side or the negotiation. Anger triggered by the other side could generate even less ethical behavior.

What All Of This Means For You

Anger is a powerful emotion. When we are negotiating with someone, it is very possible that based on how the principled negotiation is going, we may find ourselves starting to become angry. When this happens, we need to understand that our anger may affect how we go about negotiating. It may also affect how the other side negotiates with us. Is anger a good thing or a bad thing when we are negotiating?

Where things start off is that getting angry during a negotiation is not necessarily a bad thing. Studies have been done that show that becoming angry can help you to claim value during a negotiation. If you decide to use anger to your advantage and make a false display of anger, it can backfire on you. The other side may detect that you are faking your anger and they will start to distrust you. Becoming angry can cause a backlash to occur. The other side may retaliate because you became angry with them. Finally, becoming angry can trigger unethical behavior in negotiators and that is never a good thing.

Overall, the research that has been described on negotiating suggests the value of taking a break to cool down when you feel angry and encouraging angry negotiators to do the same, lest someone engage in behavior they later regret.

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

Question For You: If you find yourself becoming angry during a negotiation, what should you do?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

For most of us, negotiating is all about winning. That’s the goal. When we are negotiating we have a set of goals that we are trying to use our negotiation styles and negotiating techniques to achieve and if we are able to achieve them, then we believe that we will feel as though we have been successful. Where things can get a bit strange is if we are successful in a negotiation, but we end up feeling as though we actually were not successful. What’s going on here?