This is how emotional triggers affect you in a negotiation

A two man bobsled taking off out of the starting gate

Your attitude in a negotiation is key. Your attitude determines how you may react to triggers during a negotiation. Do you think this will be successful or not? Likely your attitude will assist you in reaching that conclusion. If you don’t think it will be successful, it won’t. If you do think it will be successful the chances are it will. What can you do to ensure you have the right attitude and to make sure that if the other party hits your hot button that you won’t sabotage or that they won’t sabotage the negotiation?


What is your mood?


If on the way to the negotiation you just had an argument with your kids, you were rear ended in your car, or you are thinking of an unpleasant task you have to do after this negotiation instead of the negotiation, any of these can impact your mood negatively. Can you separate your emotional triggers from the negotiation in front of you? Probably not. We know from neuroscience that once we have been flooded with chemicals and hormones and become angry those chemicals and hormones stay in our blood stream for up to 22 hours or until we have had a sleep cycle. However, there are things we can do.

In addition, we all have internal bias. If the person on the other side is not someone, we want to engage with based on previous experiences, this too is likely to taint our expectations and mood. You may have internal anger. This may have nothing to do with the negotiation in front of you. Knowing this, the first step is to be aware.


What can you do?


First acknowledge how you feel. Take a moment. Write down your emotions. What are your emotional triggers? That is, what might the other side do that may make you angry? Write these down. It turns out writing down your emotions with pencil and paper really matters. We don’t know why, but it does. Knowing these, be prepared that the other side may trigger these emotional reactions in you. Coach yourself to not let yourself become angry. Use your name with your direction statements. This is called self-distancing. For example, for me I would coach myself by saying to myself, “Mike, remain calm. I win if I don’t become angry. They win if I do become angry” Repeat something like this to yourself.


Can weather have an impact?


It turns out in a study that if parties were asked about life satisfaction on a sunny day versus on a rainy day, there was a clear correlation of positivity for those asked on sunny days and negativity to those asked on rainy days. However, if they were first simply asked “How’s the weather today?” and then they took the survey there was no difference. What are the ramifications? Simply asking the question about the weather helped diffuse the bias.


What can we learn about the weather example to defuse emotional triggers?


Keep in mind that the mood of the other party may have nothing to do with you. If you sense that the other party may have negative feelings prior to the negotiation, try to draw those out prior to starting the session. By allowing the other party to share those concerns can help diffuse the situation. When carrying out a negotiation remotely, make a point to ask about the weather. If face to face, bring up the weather first. It is a safe topic normally and allows for other potential areas as a matter of follow up. Picking up on the commentary from above, ask open ended questions such as:

How is the weather today where you are?

How are things going at home with your kids?

How was your trip to the office today?

What do you have going on after the session today?

These types of question may draw out negative feelings that have nothing to do with the negotiation, but everything to do with a trigger ready to go off during the negotiation.


What about you?


Having read this commentary, think about yourself for a moment.

Going into the negotiation what are my biases?

What are my triggers?

What can I do to not let myself become angry?

Do I think it will be successful?

What do I want to have happen?

What concerns do I have?

What would it take for me to feel satisfied?

Imagine a successful negotiation.


What about the other side?


Reflecting on the other party and the commentary from above consider:

Going into the negotiation what are their biases?

What are their triggers? Make a point to not go there.

What can I do to help the other party not become angry?

How can I help them to make the negotiation successful?

What do they want to have happen?

What concerns do they have?

What would it take for them to feel satisfied?

Help them imagine a successful negotiation.




Your attitude and their attitude matters. You need to set yourself up and help the other party to set themselves up for success by coming with a positive attitude. Take some time before the negotiation to address the points presented here. Visualize a successful negotiation. Realize that this involves some give and take. Be there in the moment to work towards a reasonable resolution.

In mediation, no one typically leaves happy. Rather, both parties leave with a resolution that each can live with going forward. It is important to set up realistic expectations.

In a negotiation, there is a possibility that each party may actually leave with more than they anticipated. Besides the major issues, there may be additional opportunities associated with a host of elements not initially identified or anticipated as part of the process. For example, a better long-term relationship, better lines of communication, future contracts, recommendations, better quality, better terms, and other important elements.

Keep an open mind. Coach yourself with self-distancing. Your positive reinforcement can make a significant difference on how things turn out.


About the author


Mike is a professional speaker, mediator/negotiator that helps clients resolve issues and be more productive as a conflict resolution expert with the IRS and others. Is conflict blocking your results? You may contact Mike directly at and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 11 books including, The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, NSA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]

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]