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5 Tips for Taking Emotions (but not emotional intelligence) Out of Deal Negotiations

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You’re a passionate entrepreneur. You’ve invested a fair portion of your career, perhaps more than a fair portion of your savings and countless hours to build your technology, your idea, your brand—your company. A successfully negotiated deal could result in game-changing economics for you and your family. It’s only natural to be emotional. Displays of emotion during deal negotiations can be fatal to achieving your goals. Displaying emotional intelligence during negotiations, however, can be the difference in a deal tied up nicely with a bright red bow, and ending up in the dead deal graveyard.

Tip #1: Prepare

Being prepared as you enter into deal talks is a goal in its own right, but the actual exercise of preparation can give you a heightened self-awareness of your own emotional hot-buttons and a fresh perspective on your particular personal and professional goals. Perhaps most importantly, the process of preparation provides a chance to experience your own emotional reactions to deal points the other side may raise, but without an audience.

Tip #2: Visualize

High performance athletes striving for personal best use visualization techniques to increase their probability of success. Why shouldn’t high achieving business people do the same? What do you want to walk away from the deal talks having accomplished? Can you see yourself high-fiving your deal team in the elevator on your way out? Emotions can get the best of you during the ups and downs of negotiations, but “seeing” the ball brush the tip of the keeper’s fingers and hit the net can help you stay on course during that long run up the field as you drive on goal.

Tip #3: Practice Safety in Numbers

As a deal lawyer who negotiates for a living, I am a big believer in value-added trusted advisors. In addition to navigating legal and commercial pitfalls, having a professional who is passionate about working with you, but is not emotionally vested in the particular transaction, can help keep negotiations on course. Teaming up with an outside advisor or colleague can also help give more than one perspective when reading the other side (observing body language, word choice or emotional reactions of the people you’re negotiating with) which can give you great insight as to where you stand or how to reach your goals.

Tip #4: Have an Exit Strategy

I always have what I call my “get out of jail free card” at the ready. That sentence or statement that will stop everyone in their tracks and allow my client and I to walk out of the room to regroup without a lot of pomp and circumstance, and simultaneously eliminate the immediate tension or pressure. I say it in my mind and out loud before I ever walk into the meeting room. Knowing when to pull out that card—for the benefit of my client, or the other side, is a good sign of productively managing emotions.

Tip #5: Focus on What You Get

We all make our lists of “must-haves” and “walk-aways” when we prep for negotiations. I prefer to try to consistently focus on what benefits you are getting out of any given deal, and not what the other side is getting (that presumably you aren’t). If you can be truly happy with your take-aways, the other side’s positives shouldn’t detract from the deal’s value to you. It is a great sign of high emotional intelligence to recognize when you have done well for yourself and have the ability to be satisfied at the conclusion of a negotiation.

If you have questions or want more information, please comment below, email me or connect with me on LinkedIn.

The blog content should not be construed as legal advice.

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