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Don’t Let Emotions Control Labor Negotiations

Do you know what’s hard? Negotiating a contract with an employer you don’t like.

It’s tough to keep your emotions in check. But it may be the most important thing you do to ensure a successful outcome.

Negotiating With a Tough Employer

Don't let your emotions get the best of you in a negotiation.

Don’t let your emotions get the best of you in a negotiation.

I negotiated with one employer that frankly I didn’t respect. We might agree on a contract, but often that turned into a starting point for an expanded argument that would last the length of the job.

Let me tell you–it was hard to find the good in this guy.

He didn’t want to work with us. He didn’t want to pay us. He didn’t want to be at the negotiating
table. But… he didn’t have a choice.

Thanks to the prevailing wage we secured for entertainment work, the employer was obligated to work with stagehands on San Francisco city-owned and leased properties. So when he staged an event at a city venue, he had to negotiate.

Keep Your Emotions in Check

It was really hard for me not to lose my cool as this guy tried to work around us again and again. Sometimes I did lose my temper, but I don’t recommend this as a strategy. It’s best to take the personal out of your negotiations.

When you let your emotions rule, you lose sight of what’s important and you waste precious time. Your job is stay calm, focus on what’s important and get the deal done.

The same goes for the employer. Riling him up distracts from your ultimate goal of securing a contract.

Stay Focused During the Negotiation

When I sense that my emotions are getting the better of me, I call for a caucus and regroup with my negotiating team. Don’t let your caucus devolve into a complaint session. Stay focused on the proposal and your counter proposals. And if you decide to give up something, make sure you get something in return.

Pay careful attention to the employer’s body language when you submit your proposals. Listen carefully to the tone of the employer’s voice and watch her eyes, body posture and facial expressions.

Body language can tell you if you’re making progress in your negotiation.

On the other hand, don’t react to the employer’s offers at the table. Stay calm and give yourself and your team time to evaluate the offer.

Learn to control your emotions so they don’t control your next labor negotiation.

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Photo Credit: freecounselling.services via Compfight cc


About the Author:
FX Crowley is a Public Affairs and Labor Relations Specialist, and former 15-year Business Manager of IATSE Local 16, San Francisco. A third-generation San Franciscan, FX can break down any football game from Pop Warner to the Pros and analyze it for hours. Contact to learn more ››