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Does your emotional response during contract disputes matter?

Contract negotiations and disputes can take up a great deal of energy and time when you run a business, but you ultimately hope that everyone will eventually come to an agreement that they can live with (if they can’t find one they actually like).

However, your relative ability to keep your emotions under control (or not) when you’re at the negotiating table can make a significant difference in not only how long negotiations will take but how well you will ultimately fare.

Researchers looked at two different ways business professionals can handle the strong emotions that are sometimes provoked during tense negotiations or disputes. One choice is to merely suppress your emotions — basically putting them on hold until the negotiations are over. That method is usually the one executives choose because it’s the one that most easily prevents the other side from seeing that their tactics are having any emotional effect.

The other choice involves changing how you see the situation, and thereby, changing your own emotional reaction for the better. For example, if your opponent attacks over a particular issue, seeing the inflammatory language he or she uses as a signal toward what he or she fears or values the most can give you some valuable information. Instead of digging in your heels, you can use the information to press for something you want instead.

Researchers discovered that emotional suppression is ultimately detrimental to the negotiation process. The mental energy it takes to keep from feeling anything during the dispute ends up impairing your cognitive processing. That stony exterior can hurt you in another way: It can make you outright unlikeable to your opponent, which means they may be less inclined to work with you on sticky issues.

Regardless of your approach to a contract dispute, you should have someone involved who can generally look at things dispassionately and spot problems that might otherwise go hidden. Find out more how an attorney with experience in business and commercial law can help.