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Mad Skills

Rage can be a powerful negotiating tool, but only if you practice a little anger management first.

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This story appears in the April 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

In ordinary life, we classify anger as an emotion--a catalytic and cathartic one that provokes comment, discussion and often backlash. At the bargaining table, however, anger is better viewed as nothing more than a tactic. Perhaps this is not a popular point of view among negotiation pedagogues (at least, not publicly). But master deal-makers know that anger is just another weapon in their well-appointed arsenals that, like any other, can be used and abused.

Put aside for the moment any aspirations toward gentility, universal win-win outcomes and the brotherhood of man. Anger is powerful. When we stonewall our opponents, it strengthens our resolve. Anger is energizing. When we feel strongly about a point, it adds fire to our arguments. Anger is just. When we've been wronged, it cloaks our indignation in righteousness.

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