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Before the Negotiation Begins

Having techniques and tools to deal with strong negative emotions as they arise in a negotiation is important. However, Fisher and Shapiro assert that it is even more important to anticipate that strong negative emotions may arise and proactively stimulate positive emotions in a negotiation instead.56 They propose that when negotiators address five core concerns—appreciation, affiliation, autonomy, status, and role—strong negative emotions can be anticipated (and, it is hoped, minimized). Fisher and Shapiro suggest that the core concerns be used as a lens to understand the emotions of each side and as a lever to stimulate positive emotions. Figure 9.9 presents the five core concerns and what happens when each is ignored or met.

The Five Core ConcernsFigure 9.9

Core Concerns

When the Concern Is Ignored …

When the Concern Is Met …


Your thoughts, feelings, or actions are devalued

Your thoughts, feelings, and actions are acknowledged as having merit


You are treated as an adversary and kept at a distance

You are treated as a colleague


Your freedom to make decisions is impinged upon

Others respect your freedom to decide important matters


Your relative standing is treated as inferior to that of others

Your standing, where deserved, is given full recognition


Your current role and its activities are not personally fulfilling

You so define your role and its activities that you find them fulfilling

Source: R. Fisher & D. Shapiro, Beyond Reason (New York: Penguin Books, 2005) at 17.

The central premise put forward by Fisher and Shapiro is that these five core concerns motivate people in a negotiation; when both sides feel their concerns are met, the relationship will be enhanced and the negotiation outcome will be improved. So, for example, to create a positive negotiation environment, you will want to be respectful and appreciative of the other party’s ideas, interests, thoughts, and behavior. As well, you will want to be respectful of the other side’s autonomy—including their ability to make decisions.

Support for the five core concerns comes from research on words and phrases that trigger emotional responses. For example, labeling other people negatively and telling them what they should or should not do triggers the greatest number of emotional responses—the most typical one being anger.57 Thus, during the negotiation planning stage, think about how to address the five core concerns and perhaps even create some key phrases to use during the negotiation.

Negotiating without a plan to deal with strong negative emotions has been compared to working in a hospital’s emergency department without procedures and protocols in place for dealing with new patients.58 Thus, it is important to find out which techniques and tools work best for you and are easiest to use. Experiment with them during uncomfortable conversations rather than waiting to try them out during a longer negotiation. Taking a break is always a good technique to use because it is easy to do; it allows you to stop reacting, and it permits you to become more analytical about what is happening. As part of your negotiation planning, list any responses, topics, behavior, and attitudes that have triggered strong negative emotions in the past during conversations or other negotiations. Try to analyze whether your core identities or shadow characteristics were involved in your response. By doing this work, you will be able reduce the occurrence and strength of your emotional responses and, as a result, be better able to deal with them. Also, by becoming more aware of core concerns and trigger points, you may be better able to anticipate and reduce the chance of evoking strong negative emotions in others.

Using Emotion and Mood Strategically in Negotiations

Becoming an emotionally intelligent negotiator involves not only the awareness and regulation of emotion but also the creative and adaptive use of emotion. So, how do you use emotion strategically in a negotiation? As mentioned above, Fisher and Shapiro cogently argue for the use of the five core concerns as levers to create and enhance positive emotions in order to achieve a better negotiated outcome. Recent research has shown that both emotion and mood can have an effect on the behavior of the negotiator experiencing them, on the other party perceiving them, on the relationship between the parties, and on the negotiated outcome. However, the strategic use of emotion raises significant ethical issues.

Thinking Inside the Box …

Ethical Issues

Is the tactical manipulation of your own emotions or those of others in the pursuit of your negotiation goals ethical? Is faking anger or frustration similar to using a tactic such as misrepresentation of information? Or is it more like lying? What about creating the experience of an emotion in yourself to enhance your performance? Is that different from expressing an emotion in order to affect your counterpart’s experience and behavior? Does the purpose matter? Is it unethical when it is used for selfish or even nefarious ends but ethical when used to further joint gains? What about when it is used to enhance the relationship with the other party? What about the intentional triggering of strong negative emotions in others? Is that less ethical than fostering positive emotions in others?

Research Findings on Positive and Negative Emotions and Moods

Numerous researchers have examined the effects of positive and negative emotions and moods on various aspects of negotiation. A few definitions are needed at this point to understand the findings. Positive emotions and moods are those we experience as pleasant, and negative emotions and moods are those we experience as unpleasant. Mood refers to a more diffuse psychological state and is of a more enduring quality than emotions, which tend to be of high intensity, short duration, and directed at an object, person, or event.59 The term affect, as used here, encompasses both mood and emotion. Researchers have examined affect in various ways, including how it can induce positive emotion and elevated moods in subjects and how it can be used to coach subjects to display a specific emotion. The influence of positive and negative affects has been found to be consistent for the most part, thus, the discussion that follows is based on this division.

Positive Affect: Making Friends and Increasing Joint Gains

The negotiator who displays positive affect has been shown to achieve greater cooperation and enhance the quality of the agreements reached. Specifically, the negotiator’s positive emotional state or mood increases concession making,60 stimulates creative problem solving,61 increases joint gains,62 reduces the use of contentious tactics,63 increases preferences for cooperation, increases the use of cooperative negotiation strategies,64 and increases the proposal of alternatives and suggested trade-offs.65 Positive affect also has been shown to lead to better decisions and improved results for the negotiator displaying the affect.66 Thus, the findings are consistent that negotiators who experience positive affect tend to be more cooperative, conciliatory, and creative. Not surprisingly, this cooperative, conciliatory, and creative behavior has been found to result in higher joint gains on integrative negotiation tasks in numerous experiments.67

Until recently, research in this area has focused on the effect of emotional experience on the behavior of the person feeling the emotion and the substantive outcome (intrapersonal effects) rather than the effect of one party’s emotional expression on another’s behavior and the substantive outcome (interpersonal effects). Due to the varied and rich information that emotion conveys to others, the interpersonal effects of emotion are an important area of concern. In studies looking at such effects, participants were coached in displaying positive, negative, and neutral emotions. In three different types of situations, the expression of positive emotions was found to encourage the continuation of longer term relationships, help close deals in ultimatum situations, and allow the positive negotiator to get more concessions from the other party.68

In addition to obtaining a better substantive outcome, positive affect has also been found to increase the affective and relational satisfaction of the parties in a negotiation. Specifically, the display of positive affect encourages the continuation of longer term business relationships,69 increases the report of a positive negotiation experience,70 and increases the chance that an opponent will speak highly of the positive negotiator and portray that negotiator as fair and cooperative.71 Perhaps an underlying basis for both increased joint gains and relational satisfaction is the trust that is created through the display of positive affect. The display of positive affect has been found to communicate one’s trustworthiness and cooperativeness to others,72 which, in turn, engenders more trust in a negotiation situation. Greater trust would correspondingly increase the degree to which interests are revealed and enhance the possibility for higher joint gains.

If experiencing and displaying positive emotions clearly helps reach substantive and relational goals, how then can you stimulate positive emotions in others? Researchers have induced elevated mood and positive emotions through humor, small gifts, pleasant scents, and positive performance feedback. Therefore, you may want to provide compliments and positive feedback to the other side during a negotiation as well as inject humor or jokes to create a more positive negotiating environment. Sales people often use the latter technique because making a joke typically puts people at ease and elevates their mood. People who are in a good mood are more likely to agree with you and buy what you are selling.

Meeting the five core concerns will also stimulate positive affect in others. For example, acknowledging the other person’s thoughts or feelings as having merit or treating her like a respected colleague as opposed to an adversary will go far in creating a positive working environment for the negotiation. Positive emotions that have been found to promote the integrative process include excitement, enthusiasm, and happiness.73 So, expressing these types of emotions will also help create positive feelings in the other party. To stimulate positive emotions in yourself just before starting a negotiation, try reading funny cartoons or think positive things about the negotiation. For example, think about the great facts you have, the wonderful opportunity this is for you, the fabulous agreement that is possible, and the great relationship with the other side that will be created through this negotiation.

Although early research found that positive negotiators also realized higher individual gains on both integrative and distributive tasks than did negotiators in a neutral affect mental state,74 more recent findings suggest that only negotiators displaying negative emotions realize higher individual gains.75

Negative Affect: Getting the Biggest Piece of the Pie

In contrast to the results of positive affect studies, negotiators experiencing negative affect have been shown to decrease initial offers, promote rejection of ultimatum offers, increase the use of competitive strategies, achieve fewer joint gains, refuse offers that served their economic interests, and decrease the desire to work together in the future.76 These results consistently show that negotiators experiencing unpleasant affect tend to be more competitive and reluctant to make concessions. Anger, in particular, has been shown to cause bigger risk taking, more errors to be made, and greater financial loss in negotiations.77 As such, many researchers have concluded that negative feelings have a negative impact on negotiations.

Advantages to using negative affect have been found in the research on emotional expression of anger. In face-to-face negotiations, anger was found to be every effective in extracting value where the other party perceived her options as weak.78 This result appeared because a strategic display of anger communicates toughness, and more concessions are made to an opponent perceived as tough. Therefore, where there is a power imbalance, the negotiator with better alternatives can get an even bigger share of the negotiated resources by strategically expressing anger. The same effect was found when the negotiator’s negative emotion was conveyed verbally. Subjects who thought they were facing a negative negotiator made larger concessions. Similarly, when participants were told about the other party’s emotional state in a computer-mediated experiment, they conceded more to an angry opponent than to a happy one, but only when they were motivated to get a deal quickly.79 Thus, greater individual gains have been obtained by expressions of anger both in face-to-face and computer-mediated negotiations, but only where other factors were operating as well. Despite the potential advantage of greater individual gain, such strategic use raises significant ethical issues.

These findings on negative affect highlight the need to be aware of our emotional states or we will negotiate under the influence of emotion—to our detriment. For example, experiencing negative affect may interfere significantly with carrying out a strategy that involves creating value. On the other hand, it may enhance the execution of a claiming strategy. Since experiencing negative affect has been shown to interfere with clear thinking, the best approach is to express the negative emotion only and not experience it. Unfortunately, there is a fine line between expressing emotion and experiencing it; faking an emotion may in fact create it. So, when strategically expressing negative emotions, be careful that you do not start to experience such emotion. Another reason why strategically expressing negative emotions is risky business is that emotions are contagious—we can give them to others. For example, a negotiator who displays hostility may breed further hostility in the other side, which can lead the negotiation to spiral out of control. And, thus, what started out as a negotiation strategy to get higher individual gains could easily disrupt and possibly derail the entire negotiation. Clearly, it is far safer and more advantageous to employ a positive affect strategically.

Putting It All Together

The central premise of this chapter is that in order to become a truly skillful negotiator, it is important not only to be able to use cognitive strategies, tools, and techniques but also to be emotionally intelligent. The various skills, techniques, and tools relating to becoming a more emotionally intelligent negotiator have been discussed and follow, to a large extent, three broad dimensions of emotional intelligence: emotional awareness and perception (in self and others); regulation of emotion; and the use of emotion in creative, adaptive, and ethical ways. So, how then do you put together all of this information in preparing for and navigating a negotiation session?

At the negotiation planning stage, after you have determined your substantive goals and your strategy, emotion and mood can be used tactically to assist the process. If you are planning to use an integrative strategy and want to foster creativity, trust, and cooperation, you will want to create positive affect in yourself and others—by experiencing it, expressing it, and stimulating it in others. If the negotiation involves parties with whom you already have or wish to have a long-term relationship, you will want to employ positive affect. Techniques for creating positive affect include using the five core concerns as levers, displaying positive affect such as happiness, excitement, and enthusiasm, and elevating your mood by reading humorous cartoons and thinking positive thoughts about the negotiation before you come to the table. If the negotiation is entirely distributive, then you may wish to employ negative affect, especially where the other side wants a quick agreement or has weaker alternatives than you do. However, the expression of negative emotion is a risky business for many reasons. So, before deciding to employ negative affect for negotiation gain, it is best to be fully aware of the risks involved.

Immediately before the negotiation starts, check your mood. If you are in a low mood and you want to create positive affect, you will need to employ some of the techniques discussed above to elevate your mood. If you are already in an elevated mood and feeling good—then carry on. In contrast, if you intend to use competitive tactics only (and this would be a rare situation) and you are in an elevated mood, you may wish to think depressing thoughts before the negotiation.

To ensure a positive environment at the beginning of the negotiation, focus on the relationship with the other side and try not to be distracted by what they may do. If they do or say something that is adversarial, then take a break (mentally or physically) to focus on and accentuate the positive aspects of the relationship. Go through the five core concerns in your mind and find a way to get things back on a positive track. If their behavior has been aggressive, you may want to use some communication techniques such as the three-part assertive message or some of Kolb’s turns.80

During the negotiation, especially a contentious one, tune into your body periodically and do temperature checks. If you are experiencing strong negative emotions, take a break—either mentally or physically. During the break, you may want to use the techniques that change hot feelings into cooler ones. Once you are calmer and more detached, you can decide how to get the negotiation back on track. You may want to ask yourself how the other side is feeling. If you still want to foster a positive environment, use the tools and techniques that help with that. You may want to use communication techniques to respond in a constructive way to the aggressive moves of the other side. You may also want to take the time to assess whether the strong negative emotion was triggered by identity issues or shadow characteristics. During the negotiation session, be perceptive and watch for signs of emotion in the other person. Doing so can provide invaluable information.

At the end of the negotiation, especially where you want to promote positive future relationships, ensure that you leave the other side feeling good. Take time to foster good feelings and speak positively about the process and the result. Of course, you want to be truthful so you will do so only where the process and the results have been creative and integrative. Emphasize your pleasure in dealing with the other side. Remember that if they leave with good feelings, they will most likely speak highly of you and portray you as fair and reasonable.


Emotion is an integral part of negotiation. Thus, in order to become a truly skillful negotiator, it is important not only to employ cognitive skills and strategies but also to be emotionally intelligent. In this chapter, various skills, techniques, and tools for becoming a more emotionally intelligent negotiator are discussed. To a large extent, the discussions follow the broad dimensions of emotional intelligence involving emotional awareness and perception (in self and others); regulation of emotion; and the use of emotion in creative, adaptive, and ethical ways. Emotional awareness of our own feelings as well as those of others is key to becoming an emotionally intelligent negotiator. It is important to deal with strong negative emotions as they arise because negotiations tend to foster them, and while in their grip, clear thinking is difficult. The techniques and tools presented not only help keep negotiations on track during emotional upheaval but also help anticipate strong negative emotion and stimulate positive affect. The creative and adaptive use of emotions is also paramount, and current research on positive and negative affect is examined in light of how to use emotion and mood strategically in negotiations to achieve a desired outcome.

36 Lerner, supra note 3 at 3.

37 Neale, supra note 7.

38 D. Shapiro, “Untapped Power: Emotions in Negotiations” in A.K. Schneider & C. Honeyman, eds., The Negotiator’s Fieldbook: The Desk Reference for the Experienced Negotiator (Washington, DC: ABA Section of Dispute Resolutions, 2006) 263 at 264.

39 Ibid. at 264; Neale, supra note 7 at 3.

40 R.S. Adler, B. Rosen & E.M. Silverstein, “Emotions in Negotiation: How to Manage Fear and Anger” (1998) 14:2 Negotiation Journal 161.

41 Ibid.

42 B. Gray, “Negotiating with Your Nemesis” (2003) 19 Negotiation Journal 299.

43 Stone, Patton & Heen, supra note 9 at 111.

44 Adler, Rosen & Silverstein, supra note 40.

45 Stone, Patton & Heen, supra note 9 at 112.

46 Ibid. at 114.

47 Gray, supra note 42 at 304.

48 Adler, Rosen & Silverstein, supra note 40.

49 Gray, supra note 42 at 306.

50 W. Ury, Getting Past No: Negotiating with Difficult People (New York: Bantam Books, 1991) at 16.

51 Stein & Book, supra note 26 at 44.

52 Adler, Rosen & Silverstein, supra note 40.

53 D. Kolb, “Staying in the Game” Harvard Negotiation Newsletter (December 2003) at 3.

54 Bolton, supra note 30 at 140.

55 Ibid. at 142.

56 Fisher & Shapiro, supra note 20 at 14.

57 H.A. Schroth, J. Bain-Chekal & D.F. Caldwell, “Sticks and Stones May Break Bones and Words Can Hurt Me: Words and Phrases That Trigger Emotions in Negotiations and Their Effects” (2006) 16 Int’l J. Confl. Mgmt 102.

58 Fisher & Shapiro, supra note 20 at 149.

59 Van Kleef, De Dreu & Manstead, supra note 11.

60 R.A. Baron, “Environmentally Induced Positive Affect: Its Impact on Self-Efficacy, Task Performance, Negotiation, and Conflict” (1990) 20:5 Journal of Applied Social Psychology 368.

61 A.M. Isen, K.A. Daubman & G.P. Nowicki, “Positive Affect Facilitates Creative Problem Solving” (1987) 52 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1122.

62 K. Allred et al., “The Influence of Anger and Compassion on Negotiation Performance” (1997) 70 Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 175.

63 P.J. Carnevale & A.M. Isen, “The Influence of Positive Affect and Visual Access on the Discovery of Integrative Solutions in Bilateral Negotiation” (1986) 37:1 Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 1.

64 J.P. Forgas, “On Feeling Good and Getting Your Way: Mood Effects on Negotiator Cognition and Behavior” (1998) 74 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 565.

65 Kopelman, Rosette & Thompson, supra note 1.

66 Van Kleef, De Dreu & Manstead, supra note 11.

67 See Kopelman, Rosette & Thompson, supra note 1 for a review of studies.

68 Ibid.

69 Ibid.

70 M. Der Foo et al., “Emotional Intelligence and Negotiation: The Tension Between Creating and Claiming Value” (2004) 15 Int’l J. Confl. Mgmt 411.

71 Kopelman, Rosette & Thompson, supra note 1.

72 C. Anderson & L.L. Thompson. “Affect from the Top Down: How Powerful Individual’s Positive Affect Shapes Negotiations” (2004) 95 Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 125 at 127.

73 Allred et al., supra note 62.

74 Kopelman, Rosette & Thompson, supra note 1 at 83.

75 M. Sinaceur & L.Z. Tiedens, “Get Mad and Get More Than Even: When and Why Anger Expression Is Effective in Negotiations” (2006) 42 Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 314.

76 See Van Kleef, De Dreu & Manstead, supra note 11 for a review of studies.

77 Lerner, supra note 3.

78 Sinaceur & Tiedens, supra note 75.

79 Ibid.

80 Kolb, supra note 53.

DELEE FROMM is both a lawyer and a psychologist. She is a former partner of McCarthy Tetrault LLP, the largest law firm in Canada, where she practiced commercial real estate for 17 years. While practicing law she also lectured and conducted workshops on negotiation and mediation for her firm as well as for various universities and law societies. Prior to her career in law she was a senior member of the Department of Neuropsychology at Alberta Hospital, Edmonton as well as a private clinical consultant.

Now as a partner of Fromm & Goodhand and a consultant in the areas of negotiation, gender dynamics and leadership, she lectures, gives speeches and conducts workshops for a variety of organizations including major corporations, charitable organizations, universities and law firms. She teaches at Osgoode Hall Law School, at the undergraduate and graduate levels and provides exclusive one-on-one negotiation training and coaching in both Canada and the U.S. You may contact Ms. Fromm by e-mail at

This article appears in The Theory and Practice of Representative Negotiation (Toronto, Canada: Emond Montgomery Publications Limited, 2008) and is reprinted here with the permission of the author and the publisher.

Copyright © 2008 Emond Montgomery Publications Limited

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January 2008