Negotiations, the Brain and Stress Part I

Negotiations, the Brain and Stress

Photo: Stress-Geralt woman-2775271_1920 at Pixabay

This is a part I blog being offered October 23, 2017 with part II being issued October 30, 2017. Just the thought of negotiations can cause stress. More recent articles from neuroscientists provide some insights on what we can do to address stress proactively before, during and after a negotiation to minimize threats. This week this blog focuses on attitude, preparation and trying to be friendly. Next week the focus is on clearing the mind of worry, balance and emotional charged negotiations.


When we become aware of a negotiation, just the thought can add stress. Depending on when, with whom, on what, where, why and how the negotiation may proceed, these can all be stress inducers. Just being exposed to change or something new we are immediately oriented to view that activity negatively. It is referred to a foe versus friend. Knowing this what can we do to adjust our own attitude to the situation? Studies have shown that we can coach ourselves to have a positive attitude. The brain has the ability to change. In fact simply taking five minutes a day to focus on what you are grateful for can impact you for nearly your entire day. Think about changing your attitude related to the negotiation. Plan for the worst and hope for the best.


A way to reduce your stress in a negotiation is to be prepared. In a few of my more recent blogs , I addressed this issue. I offered that you should go into a negotiation with a half dozen alternatives, based on what you already know. Start with your position and their position. That’s two alternatives already. Determine your BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement). That’s the third. Develop three alternatives between BATNA and your position. Explore your own interests considering the impacts and an evaluation of the impacts of your alternatives economically, socially and environmentally. Be prepared to adjust your thinking after asking the other side open ended questions. Here are some of the open ended questions from the free pocket guide that comes with my book, Peaceful Resolutions.

What do you want to have happen?

What concerns do you have?

What will it take for us to work together?

What is the best-case scenario?

Are there any other concerns?

Explore these and other open ended questions.

Trying to be friendly

Yes, as hard as this may be with someone you have real issues with, trying being friendly.  Successful negotiations can be significantly enhanced if parties truly listen to each other and develop a friendly relationship. Be polite, be positive, be professional, but most of all try and be friendly. This is common sense to an extent, but it has proved itself out in neuroscience.

Next week I will pick up on the second half of this commentary focusing on “clear the mind of worry”, “balance “and “emotionally charged negotiations” related to this same topic of neuroscience, negotiations and stress.

Michael Gregory, NSA, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court is an international speaker that helps organizations resolve conflict and negotiate winning solutions, client to IRS, business to business and within businesses. On point resources are available online at and check out the blog. Mike may be contacted directly at or at (651) 633-5311. 

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]