“How To Avoid The Trap Of Emotions Versus Logic In Negotiations” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“An emotionally unstable negotiator hurts all parties in a negotiation.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (click to Tweet)

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“How To Avoid The Trap Of

Emotions Versus Logic In Negotiations”

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

It can be daunting and stressful when engaging in a negotiation. The task of doing so can become more exasperating when a negotiator’s emotions are uncontrollable. And that occurs when one allows their emotions to override their logic. They’re several reasons why logical good sense becomes subservient to one’s emotions. When logic finds itself in that position, logical reasoning is usually the loser, along with one’s negotiation efforts. To avert that faith from befalling you, take note of the following. 

Managing Emotions

Negotiators need to learn how to manage their emotions. They can do this by learning to listen to what’s occurring in their head and their negotiation partner’s wants and needs. Doing so will allow a negotiator to determine when emotions are overtaking logic. If that’s you, that recognition should enable you to break the cycle of losing control of your feelings.  

1. Thoughts Occurring In Your Head

You can, and should, always prepare for what you expect to occur in a negotiation before entering into it. During your prep process, consider the most drastic thing that might happen in the talks and how you’ll address it. That’s something you should practice.

In many situations, when logic befell emotions, one party has posed a statement or question that triggers a negotiator into a fit of anger. That becomes the first step towards deepening distress. If you sense that occurring, that’s the point to begin exercising control of your emotions.

To do that, ask yourself, what’s the intent of the statement or question? Is it to rile you? And if so, for what purpose? Engaging in that line of thinking will allow you to infuse your thoughts logically and dampen anger’s emotions.

2. Opponents Wants And Needs

Like you, your negotiation counterpart wants to acquire the best deal they can get. And thus, a negotiator may ask for something that appears to be outlandish. Depending on what it is, the request can be what agitates one’s emotions. When that occurs, again, let logic prevail over your actions.

Understand, what an opponent says he wants and what he says he needs are two different things. He may be substituting either to position the other. For example, if he states he wants ‘X without a condition (e.g., or I’ll exit the negotiation), realize he’s adopting a position – testing the waters mildly. Compare that to I will exit the negotiation if I don’t receive ‘X.’ The latter statement becomes more defining and drastic than the former.

It’s that slight nuance that you must observe to understand the difference between what he reports as a need versus his wants. While he may not use the words want or need to express the difference, he implies the words to indicate his preference. The only way for you to tune in to his meaning is by maintaining control over your emotions. Doing so will evoke logic in your thinking.

The Value Of Listening

There’s value in listening to what the other negotiator says and how he says it. Consider the number of times you may have been half-listening to someone and misinterpreted their intent. Now think about the times when that was the start of you becoming emotionally charged. At some point during the exchange, they clarified their meaning and your emotions subsided.

1. How Listening Should Work  

Listening between you and your negotiation counterpart is a collaborative process. Both parties must work together at listening to each other to find a solution that works for both sides. Negotiations can become more complex because they involve a lot of communication. And when that communication becomes fraught with emotions, listening can become derailed by them. To prevent that, listen with the intent of understanding one’s meanings, not just their words.

2. How And What To Observe

It’s essential to understand that negotiation is not a game – but it is game-like. There is no prize for winning or losing, such as what one might receive at a state fair. The reward, in this case, is a negotiation outcome that all parties value. To achieve that, employ all five of your senses.

  • Hearing – Make sure you listen to your companion to understand her meaning truly. Hidden thoughts may lie in unspoken words.
  • Sight – Look for expressions of emotions during the conferment of someone’s message. Often, there’s hidden meaning in the conference.
  • Touch – Observe when someone touches themselves. If they perform rubbing gestures, it could be to soothe themselves. If so, that may indicate an adjustment in their emotions.  
  • Taste – You may have heard the expression, “the taste of defeat, or victory.” When listening, note what you may be tasting. Even if it’s a dry mouth, it’s a sign to consider per how you’re feeling.
  • Smell – Recent research indicates that humans can detect whether someone is stressed or scared by smelling a chemical pheromone released in someone’s sweat. And that makes this sense all the more important when listening to someone to gauge their emotions. 


Becoming topnotch in your negotiations is a skill that requires practice and experience. If you want to be a good negotiator, you need to become good at controlling emotions – yours and your counterpart. You can do that by practicing with those that will evoke emotional distraught in you before an official negotiation. Accordingly, the better you become at controlling the flow of emotions in a negotiation, the greater will become your ability to use logic as your ally. That will lead to heightened negotiation outcomes. And everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://c-suitenetwork.com/radio/shows/greg-williams-the-master-negotiator-and-body-language-expert-podcast/

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

To receive Greg’s free “Negotiation Tip of the Week” and the “Negotiation Insight,” click here https://themasternegotiator.com/greg-williams/

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