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Getting emotions back on track


"We will win", "An aggressive agenda", "A dereliction of duty", "Inflaming the situation", "Causing misery"...


These are just a few of the emotive public comments made in the current rail strike. The ‘safety’ however is still very much in the 'on' position despite the rhetoric. Why? Well, for the simple reason that there are no other partners that the two parties can make an alternative deal with. In some ways the rhetoric has always been necessary – whilst they will have to eventually do a deal, both sides will need to be ‘seen’ to have said, done and acted in a way that satisfies their respective audiences.


In commercial conflicts where there are alternatives, it may be that you only get one chance. Poor negotiation behaviour has led the other party, in many instances, to take a slightly worse deal somewhere else, because the trust and integrity are worth an additional premium to them.


Time and time again, I’ve seen in exercises and in real life, deals that have failed because of emotion. Contrary to popular belief, you can’t strip out emotions – we all have them, it’s about managing our own and the other side's successfully. In other words, we need to be more Emotionally Intelligent.


If we get angry and show it, studies have proven that the person who gets angry becomes less objective (and therefore unreasonable), and the other party can either becomes more intransigent or fights fire with fire. Either way, a deal is less likely. If the other party has a low mood (e.g., despondent) chances are that we haven’t uncovered their real motivation – we need to in order to progress. To question and understand is vital in commercial conflict, however we will also need to move forward at some point – some stimulus will be needed to be foster this. Be careful about being ‘too happy’ or agreeing too quickly (snapping the other side’s hand off). The perception may be that the other side missed something. Make sure the perception is that this is a deal I’ve ‘invested’ in.


Learning new negotiation skills and following a process is two thirds of the journey. Managing your own and the other side's emotions completes the set. At Savage Macbeth, our Emotional Awareness Tool (E.A.T.) scores your ability in real time to manage your emotions and read the emotions across the other side of the table. Our advice will help you to accurately assess where you (and they) are emotionally and what actions you need to take to move the process in the direction you want it to go.


Lets hope that both sides in the current rail dispute can be honest and candid in their private discussions, utilising the very best emotional intelligence. There are huge benefits for both sides to agree an earlier deal, both sides also need to structure the expectations of their respective camps as to what those benefits are and what the downsides are if they don't.


Sam Macbeth, 23rd June 2022



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