Which negotiators handle tension best?

By Tim Riesterer, Chief Strategy Officer

March 27, 2014

UntitledYou’re in a tough negotiation, and things are getting tense. Your heart races. Your palms start to sweat. You think you’re starting to “lose your cool.”

Do some negotiators handle this kind of stress and tension better than others?

The answer appears to be “yes.”

People feel differently about negotiation: some dread it, while others see it as a positive experience. It turns out that as the stress level mounts the ones with a positive attitude towards negotiation outperform others…and feel better than average about themselves and the process.

Researchers from MIT recently studied this question, and came up with a fascinating result: when asked to negotiate in an environment that created the physiological symptoms of stress, those who had a positive (rather than negative) prior attitude toward negotiation ended up negotiating almost 10% better deals than those with negative prior attitudes towards negotiation.

In two separate experiments researchers also found that those with positive prior attitudes toward negotiation also had a more favorable post-negotiation “subjective” evaluation of themselves, the negotiation process, and their relationship with the other party.

These findings back up other research done at Yale University that concluded that employees who had more positive mindsets about stress reported having better health, greater life satisfaction, and superior work performance. The Yale researchers also found that they were able train people to improve their attitudes towards stress, and improve their performance as a result.

So how do you develop that critical, positive attitude towards negotiation that will help you manage the stress and tension in the process?

It starts with building your skills and confidence as a negotiator. By developing strategies for harnessing the tension in negotiation you’ll be better able to embrace it as a positive force that works for you…rather than something to flee and avoid. The good news: it’s worth the effort. Research suggests that changing your attitude will pay off in better negotiation results.

Want to learn more about harnessing tension to improve customer negotiations? Contact us today!