What is an Online Negotiation?
An online negotiation allows us to negotiate across the miles cheaply and quickly. Yet this type of negotiation creates special challenges.
When you communicate in person, social norms – including body language, manners, and physical appearance – guide your behavior and ease the process. However, an online negotiation is fraught with misunderstanding because emotion and tone are difficult to convey. With email, instant messaging, and text messages, negotiators typically lack visual, verbal, and other sensory cues to interpret how their counterpart is feeling.
This is also true to some extent in videoconferencing, though it does provide some more context than other venues for an online negotiation. Even then, we see less of the other person and their environment than we do when negotiating in person, and we also can’t see what’s going on outside the narrow frame.
However, online negotiations offer unparalleled convenience. It eliminates the costs of meeting face to face, including travel expenses, and opens the possibilities of whom we might be able to negotiate with.
To overcome the difficulties inherent in an online negotiation, behave as you would for an in-person negotiation. Pay close attention to the other person and don’t use the time to check email, send texts, or engage in other non-negotiation activities. Set yourself up in a professional environment that is free of distractions. Keep your hand gestures within the frame so that your counterpart can see them.
And just like you would with in-person negotiations, take time at the start of online negotiations to engage in small talk, which could lead you to identify commonalities and see past superficial differences.
To find out more and discover how to negotiate from a social distance, download this free report, Make the Most of Online Negotiations, from Harvard Law School.
We will send you a download link to your copy of the report and notify you by email when we post new negotiation advice and information on our website.
The following items are tagged online negotiation: