The future trends industry is in overdrive. The tills are still ringing to the tune of frenzied, last minute Christmas shopping but the eyes of business pundits are already focused beyond the next fortnight’s excesses and on to what this month’s Marketing magazine has called the ‘post-everything era’.

The premise here is that the digital revolution is over and that we now face the challenges of a tech-led world “where the physical and digital collide with such ferocity as to turn established ways of living, working, playing and creating on their heads; in fact, a future post everything we’ve known before.”

At the heart of this opportunity (not much point regarding it any other way) lies the importance of successfully striking a balance between technical possibility and human acceptability, even at its most ambitious. The Internet of Things will transform our daily lives but not if the increasing release of personal data and accompanying rise in cybercrime prove too great a price to pay. Self-driving cars could significantly reduce the horrors of road traffic accidents but there is a chill to a recent study conducted by Oxford University which suggests that 35% of existing UK jobs will be at risk from automation over the next 20 years.

And, of course, when considering all of the rational benefits of digitally enabled data gathering and analytics, the evidence has never been stronger that we are principally emotional beings in the way we think and decide. Therefore, for marketing professionals understanding how to be a welcome participant in the ‘connected lives’ of their customers is rightly the subject of much discussion and crystal ball gazing.

But, before the future gets here, we have the Yuletide festivities to survive. And no one could surely debate their emotional credentials under whichever banner they are celebrated. The backdrop to Christmas 2016 has contained some particularly painful images in recent weeks – refugee camps as winter sets in, bereft families in Paris, gaily wrapped presents floating around flooded living rooms in Carlisle.  Thankfully there will also be much joy and happiness to behold, as well as the last ever episode of Downton Abbey.

How do we make the most of the annual fest, as we gather with people we love but mostly didn’t choose? How do we keep to the path between emotional and over-tired and emotional? By reading the December 2015 Harvard Business Review (HBR), that’s how! It has always struck me that a smooth Christmas owes more to negotiation skills than any other virtues and the HBR piece entitled Emotion and the Art of Negotiation, by Alison Wood Brooks, unintentionally seems to hit the spot as a helpful guide on how to navigate the landscape.

It appears that little attention was paid to the influence of emotion in negotiating until around 20 years ago, the focus being on more transactional factors like strategy, tactics, leverage, offers and counter-offers. Since then, research has highlighted the importance of emotions in the outcome of negotiations, especially where the interaction involves long-term relationships.

The HBR’s identifies four key coping strategies. Firstly, avoiding anxiety. Feeling anxious will have a detrimental effect on how you negotiate. You will make bad deals and, if you show emotion, you are more likely to be taken advantage of. If you fear that you’re wife’s sister will insist on singing her favourite songs from The Mikado after Christmas lunch, try not to show it.

Secondly, managing anger. Quoting Wood Brooks: “Bringing anger to a negotiation is like throwing a bomb into the process.” It is no longer the received view that negotiations are competitive. In most cases they are collaborative. Anger escalates conflict, making impasses more likely. If it looks like the turkey is coming out for the fourth meal in a row, stay calm. It’s not a zero-sum game, you need to create a larger pie. There’s an idea, what about a nice pie?

Thirdly, handling disappointment and regret. If your festivities are like mine, there will be a mixture of wins and losses. It is important to feel, on balance, more positive than negative about this. This may be difficult if your Christmas presents possess an uncanny resemblance to last year’s sorry array (that would be disappointing) but this can be avoided next time by confronting the inevitable presence of regret. Research indicates that we are more likely to regret actions that we didn’t take, errors of omission. So, resolve to provide a clear brief to loved ones in 2016 on the subject of desirable gifts.

Fourthly, tempering happiness and excitement. There is less research to cite here but intuitively people, other than small children, who are permanently wired or gloat excessively about having received (or given) the most thoughtful, appropriate presents are tiresome. In the lottery that is Christmas, we don’t like to be made to feel that we have lost. Be considerate, therefore, or the tables might be turned.

In summary, Christmas and New Year can be highly charged events. They are also times for subtle negotiation. In combining the two, and endorsed by the HBR (my take anyway), you will benefit from controlling the emotions you feel and reveal, by preparing your emotional strategy.

Failing that, buy yourself some noise-cancelling headphones. It’s been a good year for them!

Happy holidays.