How to calm down during a negotiation

Last night after a long day of work I had the pleasure and displeasure of attending a resident’s meeting.

Although I have been involved in complex sales and negotiations for a few years I was very surprised to see that even resident’s meetings have enormous difficulties and some variables in common with complex sales.


Let me briefly describe the situation: due to some cost increases which were the result of an unclear count by the architect in charge, the residents decided to schedule an initial meeting for a clearer assessments.

During the meeting the architect refused to offer more transparency on the calculations suggesting that this would be an additional service and some condominiums threatened to revoke his mandate.

As you can image, this caused an escalation of nervousness and the classic ‘me versus you’ back-and-forth that led to a standoff.


What struck me was not the architect’s response (which was quite predictable) but the angry reaction of some of the residents: because of this why I decided to write something about how to calm down during a negotiation.


As you well know during a negotiation (internal or external) the emotional component is the main character, either positively or negatively.

The ability to read the other person and the control over one’s own emotions plays a crucial role when negotiating: any mistake can jeopardize the sale and the relationship built up to that moment.

The ability to hold off the reactions becomes the real differentiator.


After thinking about the residents’ behaviours I can say that some of them were not able to control and this undermined the rationality of their arguments.

But what should they have done to control their reactions and increase the effectiveness of their asks?


For this we are helped by the best-seller ‘Crucial Conversations’ written by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switlzer.

When a negotiation gets tough and we feel hurt by the other side’s arguments, instead of taking it personal and accusing the other side we should take a deep breath, slow down and ask ourselves:

  • Why would a reasonable, rational person do this?
  • What do I really want from this conversation?
  • What should I do now if I really want to get what I am here for?


By asking ourselves these 3 questions we get more clarity about the situation we are in, we’re able to re-focus on our goals, we separate the person from the action and we avoid the ‘me versus you’ dynamic that only leads to stalemate.

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