I often write about fear dynamics — the behavior and communication patterns that emerge during interpersonal interactions involving fear or anxiety that any or all involved parties are feeling. For example, I was working with a client who repeatedly took hard line stances on negotiation points as his initial opening position. However, when there was silence in the negotiation or it appeared the other party might walk, then my client would cave and give in to the demand. I had observed this type of negotiating tactic before (as I am sure many have), but the consistency of this behavior and almost complete capitulation on virtually every issue was unusual.
As I engaged with my client, I stated that the dynamic he was creating was making each negotiation point more and more difficult because he was teaching the other side that he would give in whenever there was a pause or a fear that the deal might die. My client was self-aware enough to understand this and, to his credit, he admitted to engaging in this behavior. He also stated very clearly that he did not want to lose the deal regardless of the terms. This insight was very helpful to me in understanding the situation; knowing that my client and I understood each other alleviated my anxiety. It allowed me to be more aggressive in stopping my client from speaking and in avoiding breaks and other moments of silence that would eat away at my client.
Ultimately, we worked through the deal and were able to close the transaction. I believe that my client got a better deal after he and I were able to understand the tension between the two of us, and I was then able to act to mitigate my client’s fear response.
Fear dynamics play a role in what is often referred to as