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  • Gladys Agwai

Why You Should Not Ignore Emotions When in Conflict!


"Emotions and reason are intertwined, and both are critical to problem solving.”-Antonio Demasio


When in conflict you negotiate to reach an agreement or compromise through discussion with others However, when entering a personal or business negotiation, do not underestimate how your emotions and the emotions of others play positive and negative roles and its impact on the outcome. Human emotions are part of our genetic evolutionary experience. Early in that experience fear and anger helped us avoid or fight predators. Fear and anger bring out the negative when negotiating. This can result in intense and irrational behavior and a breakdown of negotiation.


Love and empathy help you mate, form groups and care for your own and other’s interests. You cannot separate people from their emotions when dealing with problems. The emotions must be effectively addressed, properly controlled, and managed. What are the emotions in the room, for example, when there are parental disagreements with handling behavior problems with children, challenges with financial, workplace, or personal partnership situations? The emotions will come up and should not be ignored. Life is negotiation and it comes with emotions.


Emotion is one of the three essentials of conflict negotiation. The other two are cognitive and behavioral. It is your responsibility to be aware of, control, and express your emotions and to manage interpersonal relationships fairly and with empathy. Negative emotions can impact your ability to positively resolve a problem or conflict by a) diverting your attention; b) manipulation; c) hindering your ability to think; and d) taking control of you. All of this can result in win/lose outcomes and rejection.


Positive emotional experiences provide a) understanding of others needs and interests; b) critical information about yourself, your position, and how you want to be treated; c) stimulates creative problem solving; and d) joint gains. Emotions on both

sides are always present.


According to Bowling and Hoffman, the most productive way to deal with emotions is to address concerns of appreciation, affiliation, acceptance, status, and role. Dr. Daniel Goleman said, “If your emotional abilities are not in hand, if you do not have self awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you cannot have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”


So, you must manage:


• Your Anxiety: It makes you less confident, less likely to consult with others to decide, and lessens your ability to discriminate between good and bad advice.

• Your Anger: Negotiation should be collaborative and not competitive. Anger escalates conflict, competitive behavior, and offer rejection

Your Disappointment/Regret: Reflect on the missed opportunities and errors of omission to learn and grow from the experience.

Your Excitement/Happiness: Do not gloat and be skeptical that you are not overly confident.

Your Counterpart’s Emotions: Be observant (body language, tone of voice, and choice of words). Influence their emotions by injecting empathy.


Preparation is key to successful negotiations. When ambushed, listen, acknowledge the concern, manage your emotions, and respectfully inform them that you will get back to them with a response, and exit. The Harvard Business Review provided the questions below to help you set your emotional intentions for negotiation to resolve conflict.


Before the Negotiation:

• What do I want to feel going into the negotiation and why?

• What is the best thing I can do beforehand to feel that way?

• What could throw me off balance during negotiation and what can I do to recover?

• What do I want to feel when I am done?

• How might the people across the table feel and how can I consider their feelings?


During the Negotiation

• "What things might I do that would trigger my counterparts to feel angry?"

• What might they do or ask that would make me feel anxious or angry?


The End of the Negotiation

• What do I hope to achieve and how would that make me feel?

• How are my counterparts likely to feel about the possible outcomes?


Only over the last 20 years have researchers paid attention to the role emotions play and its influence on the way you can overcome conflict, resolve conflict, and create value from conflict as you negotiate. Their focus was on strategy and tactics – leverage, money and profit, and alternative solutions. While all human beings experience emotions, everyone’s frequency and intensity will differ. To be a better negotiator when managing conflict, assess which are your strongest emotions and work to minimize or maximize the experience. You must also decide when it is best to suppress or emphasize your emotional expression. Know what you want, go after it, and respect the other person when working to resolve the conflict.


“Emotional intelligence allows you to respond instead of react.”


Article Written By: Gladys Agwai


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