Negotiating by telephone and videoconference poses unique communication challenges. Learn how to use both mediums to your advantage.
- In the workplace, you negotiate multiple times a day with your co-workers, customers, and stakeholders. Yet even in the workplace, those conversations are taking place less and less in to face-to-face meetings. You might begin your conversation by email, then shift to phone or video conference, and then confirm specific details by text. Each medium has its benefits and challenges. But right now, I want to focus on how to create the best possible environment for telephone and video conference negotiations.
If you're negotiating over the telephone, I want to give you some tips to help make up for the loss of visual cues. The first four tips are about the planning process. First, plan the sequence of your conversation. In other words, create an agenda for yourself to keep you and your partner on track. You might even send a high level version of your agenda in advance of your call. Second, print out your opening statement, the bones of your request. I recommend memorizing it, but the advantage of phone conversations is that you can refer to hard copy notes and scripts, especially when the nerves get the best of you.
Three, minimize any potential distractions so you can listen thoroughly to the other person. Close doors, turn off your ringers and alerts, and if you're talking by mobile, the fourth tip is to make sure you have a good connection. There's nothing more annoying than delays and echos in any conversation, let alone a negotiation. So if you have a bad connection, hang up and call again. Move your location, or try to find a landline.
Tip number five, again, because you're missing the visual cues available in face-to-face and virtual conversations, you'll need to spend time clarifying and summarizing a little more often. You want to make sure you're accurately capturing their meaning so slow down, listen, and summarize whenever you need to. And finally, tip number six, take notes during your conversation, so you can transcribe them and send a follow up email summarizing your agreement.
Now all of the telephone negotiation tips are useful in video conference conversations as well, but here are five more tips for handling the more technical tripwires. First, if you're using your computer or laptop, make sure the camera is at eye level. If you're too low, the camera will be looking up your nose or giving you a double chin. If the camera's too high, it'll make you look small or less important. Tip number two, remember that looking into the camera means you're making eye contact with your conversation partner.
If you're looking at their face on your screen, it'll appear as if you're looking down or away. Now some video conference applications allow you to position your partner's video so try to place it as close to the camera as possible to minimize your eye travel. Tip three, find a background that isn't too busy or distracting and perhaps adds a feeling of warmth. In any case, you don't want to have plants that look like they're growing out of your head, or artwork or photos that steal focus.
Tip four, when you're testing for the right background, be mindful of lighting. It's best to have the lighting in front of you. Overhead lighting is generally okay, as long as it's not a single source that creates downward shadows. You also don't want light coming from behind you because it'll wash out your features and make you look a bit sinister. Tip five, make sure you're close enough to the camera to be clearly seen, but far enough away so that your gestures and your body language can be picked up by your conversation partner.
With a little extra planning, testing, and care, you can avoid most of the pitfalls of phone and video conference negotiation and use either medium to your advantage.
- 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.