bad mood mediationThere are many things that can impact a negotiation or mediation, but a powerful influence on the potential success or failure of the session will be the mood of the parties. Are they positive and upbeat? Are they angry or depressed? As much as you may not want to be a cheerleader or a psychologist, getting your client in a positive mood may be the key to success.

Bad moods can result in negative reactions, according to an article in The Atlantic magazine. Scientists from Georgia Tech and Yahoo Labs have reported something strange about restaurant reviews. They appeared to be driven not so much about the food or service, but the weather.

After looking at more than a million online reviews, they found that there were much more positive reviews when the weather was nice and worse on any rainy day.  Wet weather shouldn’t impact the taste of food, but it can impact our mood. Research going back decades, according to the article, shows that cloudy weather puts people in a huff, leaving worse reviews.

As much as we’d like to see ourselves as rational, fact driven decision makers, how we decide things can be strongly impacted by our feelings. Moods matter because they are present. We’re terrible at thinking about the future, so we make decisions based on how we feel, here and now, rather than trying to rationally predict how things will work out in the future.

Moods, despite their short lifespans, shape choices.

  • Negative moods can lead to a procrastination doom loop, in which an individual perpetually delays important tasks (like settling a lawsuit) while waiting for an angel of inspiration to visit.
  • Optimistic and happy people are associated with higher incomes, more successful social interactions, and longer lives. A positive mood can make a person sensitive to rewards in an environment while a foul mood makes us all too aware of all the downsides of the options in front of us.

Being in a bad mood isn’t always a bad thing. It heightens attention to detail. “If attention is like a spotlight, then a good mood will widen that spotlight, while a negative mood will focus it very tightly,” Adam Anderson, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, is quoted as saying. But “that kind of broad or diffuse attention can be detrimental in situations that demand a laser-like focus,” Anderson said.

To increase your chances reaching the resolution, as best you can before negotiating or mediating a case, try to accentuate the positive with your client, talk up the benefits of a settlement and pray for good weather.