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Emotionally Intelligent Negotiators

Gaëtan Pellerin
230515 Emotionally Intelligent Negotiators
© Scotwork NA

A couple of weekends ago, I had dinner with one of my neighbors. We caught up about a complex, emotional negotiation he had with a former business partner.

My neighbor had been dreading the negotiation. He was so emotionally invested, he didn’t know how he might react at the negotiating table. We worked together before the negotiation to identify what was triggering his concerns. We also clarified his priorities and acceptable conditions for him to move forward with the deal.

As we went through this process, my neighbor’s biggest surprise was the realization that money wasn’t his main driver. It was actually his self-esteem and how much the other party valued his contribution to the business.

“I feel like I was in control of my emotions at all times,” he said, happily, considering the completed negotiation. “And I got a very satisfactory deal.” 

It seemed to me that my neighbor had become more emotionally astute during the course of the deal. That made me think about what it means to be an emotionally intelligent negotiator.

Most people believe that negotiation is all about the specifics of the deal. But when the meeting doesn’t go as planned, stress rises and emotions take over. The emotionally intelligent negotiator doesn’t just understand the deal, but also their relationship to the deal. (For instance, my neighbor realized his self-esteem might be a vulnerability.) This understanding allows dealmakers to stay present under stress, or whatever happens during the negotiation.

An emotionally intelligent negotiator . . .

  1. Comes prepared. Negotiations aren’t always about what they seem. The emotionally intelligent negotiator is prepared not only for the deal, but also to understand their own vulnerabilities and what triggers their emotion in relation to the deal.

  2. Values their own position. Don’t negotiate with yourself — leave that to the other party. The emotionally intelligent negotiator knows the value of what they offer.

  3. Stays strong under pressure. When you prepare and understand the value of your offer, you aren’t emotionally triggered to give in as soon as you encounter resistance.

At the end of dinner, my neighbor said he was excited about the next chapter in his business and his life. More so because he felt like he had a path forward as a more emotionally intelligent negotiator. 


We Can Help You Assess Your Team’s Emotional Intelligence.
Does your team have the emotional intelligence to stay present under stress, or whatever happens during a negotiation? We can help! Draw on Scotwork’s nearly 50 years of real-world negotiating experience to get better deals, save time, and create value that preserves and strengthens relationships. Partner with one of our advisers to ensure you have the optimum view of your deal.


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