Barry Sommer on Emotional Intelligence and Self-Awareness

What role does intrapersonal dynamics have in negotiation?

Only the most emotionally intelligent mediators are able to connect with the parties, yet maintain neutrality. When we study and understand the essential influences that contribute to our personal histories and our unique cognitive, personality, motivational, learning, and communication styles, we can build the qualities of strong self-awareness and enhanced emotional self-regulation. Studying ourselves helps us to be more transparent and honor the process of mediation, negotiation and conflict resolution free of our blind spots and transference. Knowing who we bring to the table improves our effectiveness and outcomes.

What advice would you give to students going into the field of negotiation and conflict resolution?

  • Nurture a Growth Mindset-- believe that your basic abilities can be developed through study, practice, dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point.
  • Know thyself—enhance your self-awareness by paying close attention to all your relationships, be mindful of how people respond to you and you to them, reflect on your experience and be a life-long learner.
  • Develop and practice essential skills—your ability to listen, understand, and remain nonjudgmental, patience, empathy, persuasion, and emotional control.
  • Be other-oriented--honing your awareness of the interests and needs of others enables you to forge resolutions that are healing by design.

And finally, I’m often quoted as saying, “Take care of yourself so we can take care of them”