Emotions play a crucial role in shaping negotiations. According to research, emotions are not only influential but also an omnipresent element in the negotiation process. They can alter perceptions, influence decision-making, and affect the overall dynamics between negotiating parties.1&2 Consequently, understanding and managing emotions effectively is essential for achieving desired negotiation outcomes.

Emotions are complex psychological states that can trigger various responses, from changes in feelings and behaviors to physiological reactions.3&4 For instance, feelings of happiness can enhance social interactions and elicit positive responses, while sadness might lead to social withdrawal. The pivotal factor lies in the context in which these emotions arise, as it determines whether they can be beneficial or detrimental to the negotiation process.4&5

As intricate interpersonal interactions, negotiations are heavily influenced by the parties’ emotions. This influence becomes particularly evident in challenging negotiation scenarios characterized by substantial disparities and conflicts, heightening emotional responses.6 Fear and anger stand out as particularly potent among the spectrum of emotions negotiators encounter. Anger can arise from various triggers, including perceived violations of social norms, disrespect, unfair treatment, or a sense of vulnerability. While the expression of anger in negotiations can sometimes underscore the intensity of one’s convictions positively, it frequently diverts attention away from the negotiation’s core issues, thereby disrupting the process to the detriment of all involved parties.3

Moreover, fear often manifests in negotiations when individuals perceive that they must be more adequately prepared or doubt their competencies relative to their seemingly more powerful counterparts.7 Studies indicate that negotiators experiencing anxiety tend to reduce their expectations, make less favorable initial offers, and prematurely exit negotiations.8

Given the constant presence of emotions, a critical question is how we can manage and regulate them throughout the negotiation journey. Timely identification of pivotal emotions increases the likelihood of a possible adjustment of emotional states and expressions. While emotions can benefit negotiations if channeled constructively, insufficient control can undermine the negotiation process. Hence, if your emotional response deviates from the demands of your negotiation context, it becomes crucial to align your emotional reactions with the strategic objectives.4&5


1 Olekalns, M., & Druckman, D. 2015. With feeling: How emotions shape negotiation. Emotion in group decision and negotiation, 33–50.

2 Shapiro, D. L. 2002. Negotiating emotions. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 20(1): 67–82.

3 Daly, J. P. 1991. The effects of anger on negotiations over mergers and acquisitions. Negotiation Journal, 7(1): 31–39.

4 Gross, J. J. 2015. Emotion regulation: Current status and future prospects. Psychological inquiry, 26(1): 1–26.

5 Rolls, E. T. 2000. On the brain and emotion. Behavioral and brain sciences, 23(2): 219–228.

6 Adler, R. S., Rosen, B., & Silverstein, E. M. 1998. Emotions in negotiation: How to manage fear and anger. Negotiation journal, 14: 161–179.

7 Lelieveld, G. J., Van Dijk, E., Van Beest, I., & Van Kleef, G. A. (2012). Why anger and disappointment affect other’s bargaining behavior differently: The moderating role of power and the mediating role of reciprocal and complementary emotions. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 38(9): 1209–1221.

8 Brooks, A. W., & Schweitzer, M. E. 2011. Can Nervous Nelly negotiate? How anxiety causes negotiators to make low first offers, exit early, and earn less profit. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 115(1): 43–54.




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