The Emotion: Frustration

November 10, 2014

How do negotiators deal with emotions? All negotiators experience frustration in one way or another. The most frequent source of frustration stems from having the wrong or no response to efforts and work.


“When I use all my resources and make a big effort and I still cannot do it.”


The most frequent response to frustration is to try again. We assume that the negotiating professionals have lots of experience with situations subject to a frustrating outcome. The stance of trying again – not quitting – without allowing themselves to be consumed, seems to be a major strength. As one of them says openly: “I don’t want to fight back because time will change people; it is okay as long as it is moving forward.”


This does not exclude the fact that for several negotiators becoming angry or protesting loudly is a necessary process in dealing with frustration, but most of them seek an approach that helps them to get a distance form the frustrating situation and to handle it professionally:


“I think about it rationally. Think of the problem and try to resolve it.”

“I don’t react quickly. It takes time. I have to think about the causes before I react and I define responsibilities – is that me or somebody else.”

“We talk about it and criticise. But there are always explanations as to why this task failed.”


The Background


This is an excerpt from the study Professional Self Management in Long-Term Conflict Situations conducted for the Israeli Palestinian Negotiator Program, which was initiated by the Vienna School of Negotiation (back then Vienna Conflict Management Partners) in order to learn more about the ways in which international negotiators cope with their work-life balance and long-term stress, when facing high professional as well as personal demands.


The persons interviewed were professional Israelis and Palestinians from diverse political and business backgrounds, who have been involved in professional negotiations in the Middle East Peace Process.


We wanted to know what kind of self-management techniques and professional practices are used to support a body-mind balance in these long-lasting conflict situations and therefore foster better negotiation results. Besides the more general concept of stress, we focused on how negotiating professionals, as individuals, experience and deal with deep emotions.

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