How do negotiators deal with emotions?

November 17, 2014

How do negotiators deal with emotions? The emotion the international negotiators had to explain was anger. For two interviewees anger has no place in the professional environment, it simply “does not exist in work [negotiations]”. The older the respondent, the lower the importance of anger in their professional spectrum of emotions. For these experienced professionals, anger hinders a professional outcome and they use coping mechanisms to not endanger their objectives.


In contrast with frustration, anger is mostly triggered by other persons, either because they do not fulfill their promises, work in a team as agreed upon or just rearrange work priorities without prior notice to others.


One implicit technique in “anger situations”, relatively frequently encountered, is to let anger out even within the group and, at the same time, to hand over your tasks to another person temporarily in order to be able to deal with the anger personally without endangering the professional objective.


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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