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Decision Making

Tips For Negotiating Online


The challenge of negotiating online is trying to generate rapport
The challenge of
negotiating online is trying to generate rapport
Image
Credit: Monito – Money Transfer

When we enter into a negotiation, we are facing a number of
different challenges. One of the biggest can be cultural barriers
to communication if the other side comes from a different
background than you do. In order to overcome such issues, we need
to find different ways to use our negotiation styles and
negotiating techniques to communicate with the other side using
manners, body language, and perhaps even our physical appearance.

When we are negotiating with someone online
, a number of the
ways that we communicate will not be available to us. However, we
are still going to have to find a way to build a sense of
rapport with them.

Skills Needed For Negotiating Online

Online negotiating is a brave new world. This type of
negotiating is very different from either face-to-face or even
telephone negotiating. These more traditional types of negotiating
allow us to create a greater sense of social awareness with
the other side
and leads to better stability and
cooperation than we can expect to achieve during an online
negotiation. As negotiators we are going to have to find ways to
transfer the rapport building
skills
that we’ve developed for traditional negotiations to
the brave new world of online negotiations.

So what are we dealing with here? When we are negotiating with
someone online we need to understand that their social
norms may be unclear to us
. If we find ourselves having
troubles relating to them, then we need to take the time to pay
close attention to them in order to see if we can get any hints
regarding how we should be behaving. When we are negotiating online
we will be limited. The only clues that we will have are words that
are typed on the screen. Using this input we are going to run into
problems trying to respond to the other side’s style. Such things
as the use to capital letters in an email, the presence of
emoticons, or even idle chatter about the weather all mean
something and you are going to have to figure out how to
respond.

Just to make things a bit tougher for you, the way that online
negotiations are conducted is different than how we do it
face-to-face. The speed at which we can exchange electronic
communications allows us to conduct our negotiations using short,
direct messages
. The result of this is that neither side
may take the time to think through exactly what they would like to
say and how they should go about saying it. This can work if we
were just having a quick factual exchange with the other side.
However, if we are engaged in a more extensive collaborative
negotiation that will require discussion and reflection on both
sides then this can easily complicate negotiation strategies.

How We Communicate During A Negotiation Online

Where the world of online negotiations becomes a bit strange is
when we realize that people tend to act differently online
than they do in person
. As an example of this, when we are
negotiating with people face-to-face the other side is more likely
to reveal information to us honestly. When we get this information
from them, we will generally believe them and take action based on
what they have told us. However, when we are negotiating with
someone online they will tend to hold back on sharing private
information with us. If they do decide to open up and share
information with us, we will more often than not be wary about
responding to their actions by sharing our information.

As though this was not enough, it gets even worse. The people
who study negotiations have taken a look at the emails that get
exchanged during an online negotiation. What they have discovered
is that these emails contain information that is less
likely to be true, less likely to be relevant to the negotiation
that is going on, and less likely to be clear
. The end
result of this is that the information that is being shared is
going to be less informative than the information that gets shared
during a face-to-face negotiation.

As negotiators what we need to realize is that being
able to create a trusting, collaborative online negotiation is
something that is rarely done
. One of the key reasons is
that when we are communicating with the other side via emails,
there is a real possibility that bluffs and threats can increase.
If this happens, then all of sudden we can start to experience an
episode of “flaming”. When this happens, both sides can start
to send off heated email messages without taking the time to think
about the consequences of their actions.

What All Of This Means For You

The world of negotiating is changing. What used to be done
face-to-face or over the telephone is now starting to be
done online
. This poses a number of unique challenges for
negotiators. When we are communicating with someone either
face-to-face or over the phone we are able to overcome cultural
barriers by sensing their feedback to what we are telling them via
body language and voice inflection. However, when we are
negotiating with someone online these cues are missing. Negotiators
need to learn to adapt to the world of online negotiating.

When we are negotiating with someone face-to-face or over the
phone, it is possible for us to establish a sense of rapport with
them. However, this is hard to do when we are negotiating with
someone online. When negotiating online we won’t have
access to the clues that we normally have that tell us what
the other side is thinking
. Instead, we’ll have to try
to guess their thoughts based on the content of the emails that
they have sent to us. Things become trickier because an online
principled negotiation tend to happen so fast. Both sides can get
caught up in the moment and we don’t take the time to think about
what we are going to be putting into our next email. When we are
negotiating with someone online, they will tend to hold back and
not share as much information with us. Likewise, people are more
likely to to be untruthful in their email communications.
Negotiating online is hard to do and it can be all too easy for one
or the other side to start to use bluffs or threats.

The world has moved on and we really can’t make it move back.
Negotiating online is now a part of our lives. We
need to take the time to study this new form of negotiating and
understand how to make the most of it. Realizing that online
negotiating is not the same as face-to-face or telephone
negotiations is a key first step. The next time that you find
yourself involved in an online negotiation, slow things down and
take the time to build some rapport with the other side so that you
can reach the deal that you both want.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue
Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that there would ever be
a time that an online negotiation should be stopped and you should
meet face-to-face?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Let’s face it – you can’t negotiate without having some
emotions come into play. We all tend to get upset, excited,
depressed, and elated at different times during a negotiation
because of the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques that
are involved. Without a lot of surprise it turns out that the
people who study such things are learning about the connections
among emotions, negotiators, and decision making. Since such
emotions can influence the results of our negotiations, it sure
seems as though we should take some time and understand how our
emotions can influence our outcomes.

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Tips For Negotiating Online
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Negotiator
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