Negotiating by email can create a minefield of misinterpretation. In this video, walk away with a template that helps you avoid the pitfalls by adding tone, texture, context, and emotion to a problem-solving email negotiation.
- It's been a lot of years since business people began to use email. And we still haven't figured out a way to avoid most of the trouble that causes. When we talk by video conference or in person, we're consciously and subconsciously picking up bits of information, not just from words, but also tone of voice, posture and body language. The good news is that email, yes, words alone, can communicate context and tone. As well as empathy, passion, curiosity and doubt.
If that weren't true, we wouldn't cry at the end of Grapes of Wrath. Or laugh out loud at a humorous editorial. Email just takes a little more care. So I want to borrow from the expertize of my business partner, Victoria Pynchon and give you eight tips for adding tone, texture, context and emotion to a problem solving email negotiation. We'll go through a sample email, section by section, and you can also download an email template in the exercise files to adapt it to your situation.
Number one, set the stage and bring feeling into the conversation. Just as you might use small talk to break the ice in a face to face negotiation, you need to do the same in your email opening. Two, express empathy and get to the topic or issue. This part of your email acknowledges a relationship detail that may be important to solving the issue. And then it moves on to the point of the email.
Number three, be deferential. In this section, you're giving your partner a chance to talk by phone or in person while also being mindful of their potential busyness. Number four, mention the feelings that business communications usually lack. Now this section is really about labeling what you and perhaps, your negotiation partner are feeling. And brings tactical empathy into your communication.
Number five, stress your confidence that you can find a solution. Just as in negotiations in every other medium, you want to communicate workability and commitment. Number six, unpack your ideas and solutions. The point of this section is to draw your conversation partner into problem solving mode with you. Again, being as generous and deferential as possible. Number seven, don't be afraid to mention your own doubt.
Even though you've likely spent a lot of time coming up with solutions, you might have some doubts and you might miss something valuable if you don't invite your partner's concerns and alternatives. And finally, tip number eight, close with appreciation and confidence. In your closing, you want to thank your partner for their attention and commitment as well as your confidence that together you're going to find your way to a mutually beneficial solution. These email tips are designed to bring out your personality, emotion and optimism about your ability to reach agreement.
The more your mimic real life conversation in an email, the less room there will be for suspicion and misunderstanding. So what about negotiating by text? I'm going to cut to the chase on this topic. Negotiation by text should only be used in combination with in person or phone and video conference conversations. As a stand alone strategy, my perspective is, don't. Like email, negotiation by text alone is fine for everyday things like changing a meeting time or shifting deliverable deadlines.
But sorting out an entire negotiation by text could turn into a point by point transactional process which can leave both parties feeling a little battered or steamrolled. So my recommendation is to use text after the majority of your negotiation has taken place face to face or by phone or video conference. When you're sure you're just dealing with fine points or confirming specific details. Even then, I recommend picking up the phone and having a human conversation to button things up.
- Identify the different types of negotiation.
- Distinguish the difference between asking and negotiation.
- List core negotiation practices.
- Explain anchoring and framing for mutual benefit.
- Describe tactical empathy.
- Explain the principles of influence.
- Create an influence plan.
- Analyze conflict styles.
- Recognize contentious negotiation tactics.