Do you need to care about what or whom you’re negotiating to get a good deal? Do you need to be emotionally invested in the business in order to execute well? So often we say to not let emotion into the negotiation, but can you actually do that? Or, is a lack of emotion or caring in negotiating a requirement to getting a good deal?
Maybe some of us are more ‘guilty’ than others, but is emotion/caring about the business you’re negotiating within/for/against actually a bad thing? Or can we generate a good result without having any emotional attachment to what we’re negotiating for?
How can we as negotiation professionals continue to say things like, “don’t let emotion into the negotiation” when we all are guilty of doing it?
I would argue that in order to truly get a great deal and explore all the avenues within that deal you MUST care about what you’re negotiating, whom you’re negotiating for, and whom you’re negotiating against. Sure, you can completely emotionally detach yourself from these things, but then what generates your need or want to push to look at all alternatives and options within a deal?
You may say, “But Mark, if you have some sort of financial incentive attached to deal making, that generates the incentive to get a great deal.” That’s only partly true. In my experience, tying financial incentives to getting great deals only solves part of the problem. It pushes deal makers to look for the best ‘financial’ deal, but ignores all the other elements like risk, equity, equality, and relationship.
You may say, “Okay, but negotiators are motivated by their own internal pride to generate a good deal. Their work reflects who they are and so they will naturally push to get the best deal.” Again, I argue that this is only partly true. People are lazy and ultimately will only generate a good result if they’re ‘feel’ like generating a good result or are measured on generating a good result. Pride in execution is important, but in my experience it only allows for executing on the KPI’s that are being measured, like savings/profit, payment terms, delivery commitments etc., on in negotiating and may not encourage people to ensure that non-measurables or soft measurables are taken care of.
Ultimately you have to let emotion into the negotiation and care about the result and the business for which you’re negotiating and whom you’re negotiating against. You need to care about the people that your deal affects. You need to care about the party that you’re negotiating with. When you get a bad or sub-optimal deal (and you will), you must feel an emotional sting and feel crappy enough to drive you to look through the deal and determine where it could have been better and where you could have done better to improve it. This drive to improve simply does not exist if you don’t care.
Now this being said, there is a danger to getting too emotional in a negotiation and letting emotion drive that negotiation. I don’t think anyone will argue with that. When you let emotion drive the negotiation, you suppress your planning and preparation and logic in favour of ‘reaction’ and that’s never a good place to be. Certainly, you can use emotion in negotiation to generate a result, but it must be planned and disciplined and it cannot get out of control because if it does you will very quickly lose control of the entire negotiation, and it takes significant discipline and effort to get it back on track.
Caring about what you’re negotiating, whom you’re negotiating for, and whom you’re negotiating against are requirements for good deal making. Caring drives creative problem solving, pushes us to find different routes, helps us determine equitable solutions, and allows us to get the best results. If you don’t care, you won’t generate good results repetitively. But, then again, it’s likely that if you didn’t care, you wouldn’t be reading this. Encourage others to care about the business, to care about the other party, and to care about getting the best result. If we can all begin to care and allow ourselves to feel emotion in our negotiations, then we can all begin to get better deals in place.