Dealing with Emotions

Both buyers and sellers have a lot at stake, so it's not surprising that they sometimes get emotional. Experts from The Program on Negotiation at Harvard University offer five tips for defusing emotions.

  1. Recognize and understand your emotions and those of the other party. Ask yourself what is producing them.
  2. Make emotions explicit and acknowledge them as legitimate. Talk about your feelings and encourage others to do likewise.
  3. Allow the other side to let off steam. Listen quietly and encourage others to keep speaking until they vent their feelings.
  4. Don’t react to emotional outbursts. If one emotional outburst leads to another, the situation could spin out of control.
  5. Use symbolic gestures. Small acts, such as offering an apology, shaking hands, sending a short note, or eating a meal together, can smooth ruffled feelings and pave the way for positive discussions.

Source: Adapted from "Getting to Yes," by Roger Fisher, William Ury, and Bruce Patton, 2nd Edition (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1991)

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