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Managing Emotions During Negotiations

Suze Cumming | April 16, 2020

Emotions are running high for everyone during the COVID crisis.  Most people are struggling with some degree of fear and anxiety caused by the health crisis and the ensuing economic and financial crisis.  Each of us feels, reacts to and expresses these emotions differently but very few people are immune to emotional struggles at this time.

As professional negotiators, our job is to manage the emotions on all sides of the table.  This has never been more important or more difficult than it is right now.   While sales volumes are down anywhere from 40-95% across the country, some people still need to buy or sell a property. In addition, many people are committed to sales contracts with deals closing in the coming weeks and some of them may struggle to close.  In these situations, our negotiation skills will be critical to getting these deals settled.

Emotions are the number one thing that will derail a doable real estate transaction even in the best of times so let’s take a deeper look at what we need to do to help people now.

Start with managing your own emotions.  There is nothing wrong with feeling anxious about what is happening but as professionals, it is essential that those emotions don’t have a negative impact on our clients and their negotiations.  Mental health experts have provided some really great resources online to help us cope.  They include things like managing our news consumption, breathing and meditation exercises, eating well, getting enough sleep and avoiding alcohol along with making time to do things that we enjoy.  I’m not an expert in this area but there is lots of great information available on line for free.   Don’t skimp on this step; it is critical that your emotions are managed in a healthy way so that you can truly be present to help your clients through their difficult decisions.

Perform your negotiations as far up the communication ladder as possible.  When emotions are running high, the potential for misunderstandings through email and chat is much higher and the consequences more substantial.  The phone is your next best option but you are still missing valuable information that comes from eye contact and body language.  While we can’t meet face to face with people right now, setting up video conferencing is the next best thing.

Be patient and take the time to connect with people before you launch into negotiations.  When you first arrive in the zoom meeting or on a phone call, take a few minutes to inquire about the other person’s life, family etc. Use a calm voice and be genuinely interested.  Don’t start talking business until you sense that they are calm and feel some trust with you.

If you are using Zoom or another similar platform, recognize that many people are not yet comfortable with video meetings so check in with them about the technology and if it is new to them, help them explore the options a bit.  Do whatever it takes to help them feel comfortable.

Setting the stage for success will go a long way but expect that emotions will still be a significant influence in your negotiations.  They will show up in many ways.  You may see stronger stands, more irrational behaviour, a lack of compassion for the other side, aggressiveness, loud and possibly profane use of language, hopelessness, compliance etc.

As a professional, you must be empathetic and dispassionate.  Empathy is the ability to understand what someone else thinks and feels and dispassion is the ability to not be influenced by strong emotions and so be able to be rational and impartial.  None of this means you don’t care, it just means you set your emotions aside so that you can be the level-headed professional who helps people make better decisions.

Supply people with high-quality information about what is happening in the market right now and what their options are.  Don’t try to predict what the market will do.  Right now, no one knows what the future holds for the real estate market.  Pretending to know won’t help you or your clients and will add to the anxiety.  We all need to accept the current level of uncertainty and find a way to move forward within that context.

Most people are suffering from complicated emotions right now and you may find that you are managing not only your own client’s emotions but those of the other side including the agent and possibly even the 3rd parties such as lawyers and mortgage brokers.

Prepare yourself in advance of any negotiation and let the professional in you prevail.

 

Managing Emotions During Negotiations

Suze Cumming | April 16, 2020

 

Emotions are running high for everyone during the COVID crisis.  Most people are struggling with some degree of fear and anxiety caused by the health crisis and the ensuing economic and financial crisis.  Each of us feels, reacts to and expresses these emotions differently but very few people are immune to emotional struggles at this time.

As professional negotiators, our job is to manage the emotions on all sides of the table.  This has never been more important or more difficult than it is right now.   While sales volumes are down anywhere from 40-95% across the country, some people still need to buy or sell a property. In addition, many people are committed to sales contracts with deals closing in the coming weeks and some of them may struggle to close.  In these situations, our negotiation skills will be critical to getting these deals settled.

Emotions are the number one thing that will derail a doable real estate transaction even in the best of times so let’s take a deeper look at what we need to do to help people now.

Start with managing your own emotions.  There is nothing wrong with feeling anxious about what is happening but as professionals, it is essential that those emotions don’t have a negative impact on our clients and their negotiations.  Mental health experts have provided some really great resources online to help us cope.  They include things like managing our news consumption, breathing and meditation exercises, eating well, getting enough sleep and avoiding alcohol along with making time to do things that we enjoy.  I’m not an expert in this area but there is lots of great information available on line for free.   Don’t skimp on this step; it is critical that your emotions are managed in a healthy way so that you can truly be present to help your clients through their difficult decisions.

Perform your negotiations as far up the communication ladder as possible.  When emotions are running high, the potential for misunderstandings through email and chat is much higher and the consequences more substantial.  The phone is your next best option but you are still missing valuable information that comes from eye contact and body language.  While we can’t meet face to face with people right now, setting up video conferencing is the next best thing.

Be patient and take the time to connect with people before you launch into negotiations.  When you first arrive in the zoom meeting or on a phone call, take a few minutes to inquire about the other person’s life, family etc. Use a calm voice and be genuinely interested.  Don’t start talking business until you sense that they are calm and feel some trust with you.

If you are using Zoom or another similar platform, recognize that many people are not yet comfortable with video meetings so check in with them about the technology and if it is new to them, help them explore the options a bit.  Do whatever it takes to help them feel comfortable.

Setting the stage for success will go a long way but expect that emotions will still be a significant influence in your negotiations.  They will show up in many ways.  You may see stronger stands, more irrational behaviour, a lack of compassion for the other side, aggressiveness, loud and possibly profane use of language, hopelessness, compliance etc.

As a professional, you must be empathetic and dispassionate.  Empathy is the ability to understand what someone else thinks and feels and dispassion is the ability to not be influenced by strong emotions and so be able to be rational and impartial.  None of this means you don’t care, it just means you set your emotions aside so that you can be the level-headed professional who helps people make better decisions.

Supply people with high-quality information about what is happening in the market right now and what their options are.  Don’t try to predict what the market will do.  Right now, no one knows what the future holds for the real estate market.  Pretending to know won’t help you or your clients and will add to the anxiety.  We all need to accept the current level of uncertainty and find a way to move forward within that context.

Most people are suffering from complicated emotions right now and you may find that you are managing not only your own client’s emotions but those of the other side including the agent and possibly even the 3rd parties such as lawyers and mortgage brokers.

Prepare yourself in advance of any negotiation and let the professional in you prevail.

 

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