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Emotion Management in Intercultural Negotiation (Part 2)

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale. Comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the Website on Intercultural Negotiation

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Let’s continue talking about emotion management, this time by focusing on emotional dragging and on those techniques used to reduce emotional stress in negotiations.

The Risk of Emotional Dragging during Negotiations

By emotional dragging we mean a situation in which an emotion, apparently well managed and removed, reappears in other forms in subsequent moments and negatively affects the outcome of a negotiation.

This can happen (1) within the same negotiation session, affecting subjects other than those who have generated a negative emotional impact, but also (2) between different sessions, carrying those negative states from one meeting to another.

Intra-Session Dragging

The intra-session dragging occurs more frequently than it is thought on a conscious level. A classic case is that of withheld anger towards one of the interlocutors, which is then projected towards another interlocutor present, in a modified, attenuated or strengthened form. Let’s look at the following case, an uncensored original transcript about the emotional experience of a negotiation meeting:

We had been at the table for about twenty minutes and we had just gotten to the heart of the matter. After various pleasantries (chat about the weather, about the coffee from the machine, etc.) we began to discuss the merits and here he comes, he sat down, he remained silent for a little bit, but then he started talking about atomic bullshits. I asked if I could have the pleasure of knowing his role in the project, and he said that he had a role in all projects, and he always wanted to see who entered and left his company. Concerning the project, he said that he had nothing to do with it, but he was supervising it a little. Basically, he came to say that he “kept his boys at bay”, so that they did not mess things up badly. I’ll put it another way: he had come to mark his territory like a dog pissing on trees to say that that tree belonged to him. Practically, he entered the meeting and pissed on those present, on his collaborators and on outsiders, me included, to make clear that this was his territory. I had just entered, I didn’t know anyone, I was an outsider, and at first, I was disappointed. Then I thought that I had already seen a lot of assholes like these around the companies, and I shouldn’t get too caught up, I had to go straight on my way, which was to bring home the signed contract and nothing more. if I had met him on the street, I would have hit him with the car, but not there, otherwise I would have ruined everything.

I kept letting him piss on my head for a while, but then, at some point, I contradicted him not in a strong way, but vaguely, just to make him understand that I was an expert and that he could not say whatever he wanted about certain topics without knowing a shit. However, it is a fact that he entered and left the meeting, doing what he wanted, answering his cell phone, calling people during the meeting and working there, in short, he wanted to look cool, perhaps to show that, there, he could do everything. After a while he went out and did not come back. At that moment I thought “he is dead, he is gone, finally, he will never come back”. At the end of the meeting, he was not there yet. We tried to sum up what was said during the day and I said something like this: “yes, we can certainly carry out a good project, the important thing is to keep the cheap company policy out of it. I am a kind of person that is not afraid of saying if there is a problem and does not pretend that nothing has happened just because it is uncomfortable to let it out”. Let’s take one thing into account: I was in the worst place on planet to say something like that. I should have pulled it out after being their supplier, after finding some ally, not there, at the first meeting. And now I realize that, as I was telling them that, I was squinting, looking like Clint Eastwood ready to shoot someone. Now I’m aware that I still had a lot of anger inside me, letting that asshole piss on me had bothered me, and I was throwing this anger back on others, on his collaborators. Then I can tell you that, even during the evening, at home, I was irritated, I had a hard time falling asleep, I couldn’t bear the idea that an ignorant recommended asshole had pissed on my head like that.

Dragging between Sessions

The dragging between sessions is caused by negative experiences related to previous relationships with the same subject or with the same category of subjects. We may have had unpleasant experiences with some people of a specific category and associate these experiences to the entire category, entering the negotiation with a wrong disposition.

Already formed stereotypes must be used with caution. Above all, it is essential to learn how to clean one’s own mind from negative attitudes resulting from previous sessions, so as to enter the negotiation with a free and open mind.

Dragging between Emotional States of Personal Life and Professional Situations

Personal life inevitably generates emotional experiences.

Relationships with friends, family, relatives, as well as events experienced outside the work environment invariably have an impact on the person. Some individuals are good at masking what happens in their personal life (especially negative experiences), but disguising may not be the best strategy.

The most advanced techniques on a professional level provide – for those in need of a pressing negotiation and for those who negotiate at a high level – for the use of professional counselling and coaching tools, that can support the subject in elaborating the facts of personal and professional life, harmoniously integrating personal experience and managerial life.

We cannot pretend that a manager, who has just experienced a family or professional trauma, can go to work as nothing has happened and be equally productive. Illnesses, marriage problems, difficulties with children, etc., reduce concentration and the available mental energy.

At the same time, on the opposite level, it is possible to learn to feed on the positive emotions that private life can offer and absorb these energies to nourish the professional level.

It can be said that one of the most underestimated issues of today concerning management is the energetic and motivational condition of the subject; managers, as well as collaborators must be seen as “holistic beings” who live both a psychological and physical life.

Intercultural negotiation can create emotional turbulence and high emotional distress. Negotiation itself (intracultural negotiation too) is a phenomenon that has a deep impact on the person’s energy systems. The addition of the strong intercultural variable increases the cognitive cost of attention and processing, the likelihood of misunderstanding, break and repair.

It is therefore on the energy level that managers must be helped to find and maintain a high, positive condition, capable of providing them with the necessary support for intercultural negotiation challenges.

Techniques to Manage and Reduce Emotional Stress in Negotiation

Several strategies are used in the ALM method to manage emotional stress in negotiations.

Autogenic and meditative training techniques (passive techniques) and other relaxation techniques (physical dissipation, sports, active techniques) are extremely useful for generating a good emotional predisposition in the negotiator, especially if practiced the same day, before the negotiation session.

In the immediate future, the separation between personal emotional experiences and professional time can be helped by specific relaxation techniques, while at advanced levels and in the long term, turning to professional coaching and managerial counselling can be more productive, because they help managers learn to focus both on lifestyle elements (lifestyle training) and on emotional management techniques.

Usable techniques are:

  • conceptual preparation and desk-work strategies: cultural analysis, latent cultural objections analysis, objections management preparation;
  • experiential preparation strategies: situational role playing used to refine and activate motor and conversational patterns, to create readiness in conversational moves and to create self-confidence;
  • emotional preparation and emotional reorganization strategies: relaxation techniques, autogenic training, focusing and meditation;
  • physical techniques of bio-energetic recharge: doing physical work to remove stress through specific physical exercise;
  • disidentification techniques, such as those proposed by Assoagioli in Psychosynthesis, which can help individuals to distance themselves emotionally from their current experience, as if it were something happening to others, that cannot affect them;
  • cognitive restructuring techniques: for example, moving from the concept of “negotiation as a confrontation” to “negotiation as a helping relationship” (helping the other party to understand something or to achieve a goal);
  • post-negotiation debriefing techniques, that help individuals dissolve negotiation stress, rework it and use it to grow rather than letting it block them, forcing them being conceptually and emotionally committed or making them feel inadequate to face new goals and challenges.
"Intercultural Negotiation" by Daniele Trevisani

© Article translated from the book “Negoziazione interculturale. Comunicazione oltre le barriere culturali” (Intercultural Negotiation: Communication Beyond Cultural Barriers) copyright Dr. Daniele Trevisani Intercultural Negotiation Training and Coaching, published with the author’s permission. The Book’s rights are on sale and are available. If you are interested in publishing the book in English, or any other language, or seek Intercultural Negotiation Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Consulting, please feel free to contact the Website on Intercultural Negotiation

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