“How To Control Increasing Stress Better In A Negotiation” – Negotiation Insight

“If stress were deeds, some people would never complete some actions.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (click to Tweet)

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“How To Control Increasing Stress Better In A Negotiation”

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.  

Depending on the stakes of negotiation, the level of stress can be high. And, unless you control it, it can become the source that destroys the negotiation. Thus, the better you contain the level of stress, yours and that of the other negotiator, the more in control you’ll be throughout the negotiation. The following is how to achieve that goal.

Psychology Of Stress

Some negotiators experience a range of emotions when thinking about a pending negotiation. Their heightened emotions are prompts that heighten their senses. And some of that may occur at the subliminal level, which means that the negotiator may not be consciously aware of the increasing stress evolving in him.

It can be difficult dealing with anything that one perceives to be unpleasant, even more so, if that feeling occurs over a sustained time. And in some cases, people will flee from such unpleasantness rather than become engaged as they should. That’s a significant reason that you must be mindful of the source of stress before entering into your negotiation.

After identifying your sources of stress, establish actions to deal with them. If you’re worried that the negotiation won’t go as expected, develop strategies to address what you believe might challenge your desired outcome. I’m not suggesting that you should ignore your feelings – quite the opposite. I’m implying that you create a plan to address your concerns based on rational thinking versus stressing over things you can’t control or something that might occur that would lead to you losing control. Understanding the psychology of fear will give you a better platform to address those fears.

Identifying Sources Of Stress

During the negotiation, anxiety may stem from thinking the outcome sought is slipping out of a negotiator’s grasp. At other times, negotiators may stress themselves about the pending travails they expect to encounter in an upcoming negotiation. Whether you’re attempting to control your stress or that of the other negotiator, as stated, you must identify its source before you can address it. To help in the identification process:

1. Ask yourself why you have stressful feelings; what’s their source? Do you think you might be up against a better negotiator?

2. What’s the worse outcome that might occur, and what will become of you if that happens?

3. Who can you seek for assistance to help address your concerns?

4. If a worst-case scenario does occur, what backup plans might you create to lessen it.

5. What concerns might the other negotiator have that’s causing stress in him about the negotiation? You can ask yourself that question to take the focus off of the stress you’re experiencing. That may also give you clues to how you can solve problems in the negotiation.

6. Don’t allow stressful thinking of one situation to bleed into the thought of another. As my grandmother used to say, “Don’t borrow trouble.” The more anxiety you allow to consume you, the more you’ll become consumed by it. 

Also, always remember that there are at least two parties involved in a negotiation. And there will be a degree of stress in all parties involved. The way it’s controlled will determine how successful you’ll be in the talks. 

Dealing With Stress

Establishing Trust

The first aspect of controlling stress begins with trust – trust in your abilities and aptitude to manage the negotiation. Trust is something you must attempt to establish as quickly as possible with your counterpart too. It will become the foundation on which to increase the collaboration between negotiators. And once you create it, try to maintain it as long as possible. If it’s broken at any point during your relationship with your opponent, stress will have a better opportunity to seep into your negotiation.

Maintain Mental Agility

You now have greater insight into the perils in which one can find themselves when negotiating under stress. But you can reduce, if not entirely overcome, the emotional anchor of stress. To do so, maintain mental agility. And to do that, be well-practiced for the negotiation. In particular, consider role-playing with a counterpart that can emulate the possible actions you might encounter in your live negotiation. The purpose of doing so is to get you acquitted with the inner activities you might experience during your live session.

Then, once you’re in your live session, the exchanges you and the other negotiator engage in won’t seem like they’re new to you. Plus, by practicing situations you might encounter before doing so, you’ll reduce your level of stress. That’ll be due to you not feeling you’re experiencing something new. Your mind will sense that you’ve experienced those encounters before, and you were able to deal with them.

Be Observant

During the negotiation, listen with your eyes and ears. That’s to say, observe pronouncements – how the other negotiator makes them and the word choices he uses to deliver his thoughts. Also, note the gestures he makes when he’s speaking.

By focusing on your counterpart, you’ll observe more of his intent as he makes his offers and counteroffers. Doing that will allow you to spot times when he may become stressed due to what you’re discussing in the negotiation. Plus, you’ll be addressing a degree of your stress by not focusing on it as much as you might otherwise have been doing.


Stress can, and if unchecked will, mentally dismantle your thought process, period. And when it does during a negotiation, you can lose control of the talks and opportunities had stress not been wreaking havoc on your mind. If you’d like to maintain more significant control over the process that stress instills in your negotiation, incorporate the mentioned ideas. And everything will be right in 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/blog

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