Conflict, negotiations,  mediation, conflict resolution, and conflict management can all be  emotionally charged. The emotions can detract and cause the process to be sidetracked. It is important to understand the barriers that can derail the process. Frustration, anxiety, fear can be normal reactions when bargaining with others. You need to understand the forces within yourself, your relationship with others, and external forces that may be impacting you or the other party. This article looks at each.

A look at yourself

Your attitude and your approach to the process say a lot about what may happen. Your level of confidence, your belief in your competencies and abilities, and your thoughts about the other party and where they are coming from impact your emotions at the bargaining table. If you have a narrow focus related to the facts, issues, and interests this may cause you to miss or overlook alternatives. On the other hand, if you give yourself positive self-talk and use self-distancing you may be able to realize that you are in much better shape than you thought.


Self-talk is when you talk to yourself with your inner voice, and you encourage yourself. This process includes both conscious thoughts with your inner beliefs.  Your biases play a role here. This in part is you telling yourself how well you think you can carry this off.

It is important to your health and to your view of self to give yourself positive self-talk before, during and after the bargaining session.

Self-talk impacts your relationships with others too. Others can see how you are doing and play off your actions and reactions.

If you say, “I’m no good at this”, “nothing works”, or “I have run out of ideas” this can be self-fulling prophecy. On the other hand, if you view this as an opportunity and you say or ask questions like “what else should I be asking”, “what other approaches or alternatives are out there”, or “what else may be helpful” you may be able stop the negative thoughts and replace those thoughts with neutral or positive thoughts.

This process can improve your self-esteem, strengthen your outlook, and help you with the process. Surround yourself with positive people that are in your corner and there to help you.


Practice self-distancing like professional athletes do with advice from their sport psychologists. When a famous athlete has a bad day, and they are interviewed they use their own name instead of “I”.  For example, if Labron James has a bad day on the NBA basketball court when he is interviewed, he may say something like “Lebron had a bad day today. There were too many turnovers, too many bad decisions, too many bad passes, and not enough concentration on the game. Lebron will be back, better focused, and play his A game going forward.” What did he just do. He referred to himself in the third person. You can do that too.

Practice self-distancing while giving yourself self-talk with your name.

 My name is Mike, so I might say something to myself like “Mike star focused. Mike do not let yourself get angry. Listen actively Mike. Really listen to other side and look for ways to turn this situation into an opportunity.” You might even want to write down “self-talk and self-distancing” on a piece of paper or send yourself a message on your smartphone during the session to remind yourself to do this.

Your relationship with others

The Collaboration Effect is all about connecting relationships, listening actively, and educating judiciously in order to build bridges and negotiate closure. Your relationship with your team if you are involved with a negotiation as a team and your relationship with the opposing person or team is critical. Sometimes you can build a relationship with someone over the phone in a matter of seconds by listening to the opening words and tone and reflecting on how the other party sounds. Are they upbeat, anxious, frustrated, angry or something else? 

You might want to genuinely ask how they are doing or if they are alright. This can address a relationship immediately.

The same can be said for a bargaining meeting with the other party of team by learning all you can about the other party on social media, networking with others ahead of time, and uncovering common interests.  Looking for ways to relate to one another is key. Relationships matter. Listen to the other party. Given the other party plenty of time to talk. Listen to them. Let them know you are listening by asking open ended questions, summarizing what you heard them say, and paraphrasing what they said in your own words. You can learn a lot and build a better relationship by listening.

Consider external forces

If you have calmed your own fire, stay focused on the problem, concentrate on the other party, and listened to them, you may become aware of other external forces that you were oblivious to before the session. For example, the other party may be going through a terrible divorce at the moment. Maybe they had their first child and are not getting much sleep right now. Who knows what hot buttons are out there that you are not aware of cultural issues that you may not even realize are present.

The way you frame a statement, or a question may have a significant negative impact. If you state or ask something that is offensive, apologize, step back and try a different approach.

Be conscious of the other party and how they are reacting to the situation.

Keep the bargaining on track. Focus on uncovering and addressing interests. Sometimes they are not readily apparent, and it takes time for them to surface. Be patient. Be understanding. If you apply the elements presented here, you will be able to reduce your own stress and improve your decision making ability resulting in a better result.


Slow down.  Examine your own feelings. Come with an attitude to help and view this as an opportunity. Use self-talk and self-distancing to help you focus. Explore ways to develop a connecting, authentic relationship with the other party. Keep in mind what you don’t know and what may be impacting the other party. All of these are elements for you to consider to assess your own emotions, biases, and stereotypes.

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]