Reading Emotions during Negotiations

Knowing what someone is thinking and feeling is important in plenty of work settings. It is critical in high risk and reward scenarios like negotiating.

You can now understand others in ways which have not be available in the past. How are they really reacting to your position, suggestions, offerings?

And when you see something, how do you respond to it?

Here are some tips based on our training on Reading (Hidden) Emotions in the face. We trust this will help improve your ability to succeed, in crucial conversations.

There are seven “universal” emotions which include Surprise, Fear, Anger, Disgust, Contempt, Sadness and Happiness. These expressions can be seen on a face in a less than half of a second. They can be detected, regardless of what country, culture or ethnic background you’re dealing with. Even people blind from birth exhibit these emotions!

Each appears based on a specific trigger. While negotiating one should be prepared to ask questions based on understanding the specific trigger for an emotion that you see. Here are three suggestions on language you can use, when you notice some of these emotions during your negotiations.

Anger – the trigger is that one’s goal is being blocked (did you suggest an idea that could hurt the personal or professional desires of the other person?). A solid question might be, “is there anything here that might keep you from having as successful an outcome as you hope to have?”

Disgust – the trigger is to avoid something distasteful (perhaps your pricing is too high?). Question, “anything we’re talking about that’s just a bad idea you want to address?”

Contempt – the trigger is that they feel superior (they might feel you just made a dumb suggestion). Question, “do you have a better idea we can discuss?”

Notice how each question addresses the trigger for that emotion you saw on their face. Your ability to ask these fresh types of questions will increase your empathy as a business professional and increase rapport with your potential client.

When you acquire this new emotional intelligence skill you will gain information you previously had no access to. This can help you increase professional success as you attain performance improvement in your communication and influence skills.

Three quick tips on adopting these new skills;

1) No pouncing! Do not point out the emotion (“you look angry”). It will upset the person who might not even know she showed you her feelings.

2) If possible, have a partner with you whose job is to simply watch the other person’s face for these expressions. Your colleague should not watch you as you speak, but keep focused on the one receiving information.

3) If you are not meeting in person, use Zoom or another video service, rather than the phone. This idea is the most frequent “discovery” with people whom I’ve trained in this new skill. I’ve had sales executives realize that a move to video-based conversations makes for a significantly better interaction. Why? As pointed out previously, you will pick up information you’ve never before acquired. And you might even be able to record the video call and do a debrief on what you saw and what you might have missed. This is key to attaining some increased mastery, as you learn to better read emotions.

Final thought: You can grow in your ability by practicing this new skill at home and by watching live interviews on TV in the news, sporting events and more. I’d love to read your experience applying this. Please share your stories!

Dan Seidman of Read Emotions keynotes and trains on this unique new emotional intelligence skill which can be adapted by leaders, hiring staff and sales professionals.

Contact him today for a very special experience at your event. or 1-847-359-7860

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