This is a true story about a young man – Rajeev.

Rajeev got up last Saturday with an acute stomach pain. He forced himself out of the bed. He had to be in office today. It was an important day and he could not miss work at any cost. He had been working towards a deal since the past three months and finally the client had called back 3 days ago. The good news was that they had been shortlisted but the not so good news was that there would be a tough pricing negotiation round. He hadn’t been able to sleep the whole night anticipating the upcoming negotiation.

Rajeev knew that today would decide his fate & the fate of this deal. If only he could get rid of the stomach ache… he needed to focus. But the more he tried, the worse it felt.

Rajeev’s experience with negotiation and anxiety might sound a bit extreme. However, a couple of researchers from Wharton have actually proved a correlation between anxiety and poor negotiation. You might be aware, that anxiety is the most common emotion associated with negotiation.

In this experiment, a group was made to listen to the screeching music from the movie ‘Pyscho’ and another group listened to the calming ‘Water Music by Handel’. After listening to the music, both the groups were asked to enter into a simulated negotiation.

The groups conducted negotiation in stark contrast to each other. The group that had listened to ‘Psycho’ music made lower first offers, responded to the first offer faster, exited the negotiation sooner than the other group. In contrast, the group which had listened to the calm music appeared to be more confident, in control and came out far more successful in the negotiation.

If incidental anxiety can trigger such negative behaviour in a negotiation, one can but only imagine the effect of anxiety rooted in the negotiation at hand.

It is no secret that anxiety leads to low performance. We tend to show our weaknesses when we are most anxious. Anxiety doesn’t allow us to think straight. Had Rajeev known that the root cause of his stomach ache was anxiety, perhaps he would have been better prepared. However, we all know that this is easier said than done.

Anxiety is a natural human response that serves a very important purpose in our life. This emotion is controlled by the Amygdala – a part of our brain that is responsible for our survival. However, another part of our brain, the Hippocampus, can actually ‘connect the dots’ based on past experiences. It can send signals to the Amygdala not to go on an overdrive mode.

The fact is that getting the hippocampus to behave in a particular way is not so difficult as it recognizes logic and memory. If only Rajeev could tell himself a couple of things – how much he ‘wants’ the deal rather than how much he ‘needs’ it, understand his body language and be more conscious of his posture using NLP, tell himself that he has a choice of walking-out – and more.

It is wonderful that technology and research now allows us to identify the ‘anxiety-prone’ team members. Not only do we tell you who amongst your sales team is more prone to a bad negotiation with our game based assessments (on an app), but we also work with them to develop these skills. To see a change in the way your teams negotiate, call us. We promise you an improvement in performance.