Fight or Flight? Tips on managing emotional response

When the chips are down, do you push forward or do you roll over? For many of us the urge will be to continue to compete. And when this urge is underpinned by the bottom-line (personal needs) gain of protecting reputation, then engaging a reactive fight response is an easy decision.

Of course, the key word is ‘reactive’. Reaction is ruled by uncontrolled emotion and generally involves an absence of logic. It is also stimulated by your deepest motivator (eg. martyrdom, protecting reputation).

Stop and think about your immediate reactive response…

Skilful negotiators, in challenging situations, appreciate that the immediate reaction for the other party, and for themselves, is an emotional one. In high stress situations, commonly this will be fight or flight. Helping manage this reaction requires giving people sufficient space to allow them to locate a more reasoned (logical) response focusing on the outcome they seek.

So, in the rush to negotiate closure, an important question to ask is: are those involved providing sufficient space for logical decision-making?

Tips on Managing the Emotional Response

One of the more interesting tasks of an ENSI negotiation consultant is to help our clients manage their reactive (emotional) response.

Some suggestions are:

Recognise the task is to hold back from going along with your initial (emotional) response. This requires distancing yourself from the substance (content) of the negotiation so you can observe the process

Four simple steps that can help are:

  • create a brief time delay: take three deep breaths,
    count backwards from 10
  • analyse your immediate emotional response: what am I feeling?
  • diagnose your underlying personal driver: what’s in it for me?
  • clarify your operational agenda: what’s my longer-term objective?

Finally, ensure you explore several options before selecting how, when, and where best to respond.

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