Engage in emotions prior to engaging in negotiation

Friday, June 24, 2016, by Eliane Karsaklian

Engage in emotions before negotiation

The use of emotions in negotiation is a controversial topic – should we use them or should we control them? I’ve been working on emotional engagement for almost three years now in the case of a very successful festival called Italian Week. My work with the executive producer of the event has led me to think about the application of emotional engagement in negotiation. Why not undertake emotional engagement in negotiation instead of controlling or dissimulating emotions?

The terms more often used in negotiation are empathy and emotional intelligence. Simply put, empathy means that you are able to put yourself on the other parties’ shoes and emotional intelligence means that you are able to use the right emotions at the right moments.

If a festival is successful because it generates emotional engagement from its attendees, a negotiation can have even more chance to be successful if there is emotional engagement from all parties. Indeed, emotional engagement implies high involvement in the interactions in such a way that they build something together. The outcome is the result of a cooperation – everyone wants it to go well. In a festival, the personnel wants to attract a large number of participants, and attendees expect to have quality services and varied activities during the festival. Both parties give and take. The role of the organizing committee is to make sure that a favorable environment is created for emotional engagement to happen.

The same can be applied to negotiation. The outcome of a negotiation is the result of a collective work among negotiating parties. If there is no favorable context created prior to the negotiation, the process might be tough, inhospitable and stressful. However, if an agreeable context is first established, positive emotions can help negotiators achieve a better outcome because they will be more involved in the negotiation, more sensitive to respective concerns and more willing to find common solutions to them.

So next time, enjoy the negotiation instead of protecting yourself from it.

The work conducted for three years about emotional engagement has been awarded with the Best Research Prize by the International Academy of Business and Economics (IABE).