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Is Remote Negotiation The New Normal?
The Weekly Walkaway highlights negotiation in its ‘good’, ‘bad’ and sometimes ‘downright ugly’ forms. Newsletter Issue No. 34 (26th May 2023)
What to expect?
Quote of the Week - “…Argue against an interpretation…”
Tactics of the Week - Misdirection and Selective Summary
Thought of the Week - Is Remote Negotiation the new normal?
Remember: You are a negotiator!
You are always managing some form of conflict, a difference of opinion or interest.
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK
It is always possible to argue against an interpretation, to confront interpretations, to arbitrate between them and to seek for an agreement, even if this agreement remains beyond our reach.
Paul Ricoeur, French philosopher
TACTIC OF THE WEEK
Misdirection and Selective Summary
The theme of this week is ‘negotiating remotely’, and not surprisingly, it is easy to lose context remotely and all the more important to be aware of this tactic and how it can be used against you.
Your counterpart may choose to misinterpret your proposal in an attempt to gain an advantage and solidify their position. They may selectively focus on aspects that serve their interests while disregarding crucial details.
Beware that any attempt to change your proposal might inadvertently provide them with additional information to use against you.
Repeat your proposal and verify that they have truly understood it. Refuse to proceed until there is absolute clarity.
Your counterpart may also deliberately highlight specific points or distort the information. To counteract this tactic, you need to take charge of summarising the deal from your perspective.
Ensure that any "misunderstandings" are promptly addressed and corrected before concluding the negotiation.
Delaying the clarification of such discrepancies can prove challenging and costly at a later stage.
THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
Is Remote Negotiation the new normal?
Once upon a time, there was a global death plague called COVID, and it changed everything. Well, a few things anyway…
As a negotiation consultancy, we have witnessed first-hand the transformative impact that COVID and the transition to remote working have had on our fellow negotiators.
In the pre-2019 era, all our training events took place in person, within the confines of hotel conference rooms, for days on end. The impact was palpable; our delegates revelled in the experience, and we, in turn, relished witnessing the success that our training provided to these individuals.
Then COVID struck, forcing the world to adapt to a new normal. Like many others, we accelerated our transition to digital platforms. We reworked our training programs to be fully remote and then nervously awaited the results to determine if remote negotiation training could yield the same return on investment (ROI) as our beloved in-person events.
The answer, as we discovered, is a resounding "YES."
Since we started delivering fully remote training, the number of in-person events our clients have requested can be counted on one hand. Why has this shift occurred?
Do cost considerations and logistical challenges drive this, or is it simply a reflection of the fact that many of us have been negotiating remotely long before the pandemic even arrived, and training programs are only now catching up to this reality?
In our daily lives, we communicate remotely in a multitude of ways. We speak on the phone, exchange countless emails, engage in seemingly endless Zoom meetings (oh, the joys of Zoom), rely on instant messaging, and even now negotiate with robots.
The reality is that, although you still need to ‘plan’ how and what you will negotiate the same way, remote negotiation has already become deeply ingrained in our professional interactions. With this transformation comes a new set of skills—both soft and hard—that negotiators must embrace to remain effective in their craft.
Mastering the Art of Virtual Presence
Negotiating remotely effectively requires the mastery of your virtual presence. The absence of physical proximity necessitates honing skills that establish a strong presence and engender trust without relying on traditional cues like eye contact or body language. The ability to convey confidence, empathy, and engagement solely through digital channels becomes paramount. This entails leveraging your tone of voice, using visual cues effectively, and demonstrating active listening through verbal acknowledgement.
Adapting Communication Styles
Remote negotiation demands heightened adaptability to different communication styles. With a dizzying array of technological platforms at our disposal, negotiators must be adept at tailoring their approach to each medium. Text-based communication requires succinctness and clarity, while video conferencing may call for a more personable and conversational tone. Understanding the nuances of each medium and adapting accordingly allows negotiators to build rapport and establish effective lines of communication.
Strengthening Trust and Rapport
In the absence of face-to-face interactions, building trust and rapport in remote negotiations takes on a new dimension. Negotiators must find innovative ways to establish connections and foster relationships in a virtual environment. Regular check-ins, active engagement, and consistent communication become the pillars upon which trust is built. By leveraging technology to foster a sense of camaraderie and understanding, negotiators can forge strong bonds that contribute to successful outcomes.
Teamwork makes the dream work.
We’ve written about the importance of ‘teamwork’ in negotiation before and in the world of remote negotiations, where you might all be in different locations. How you Communicate with your team is key, and so are the technical tools to enable this…
Cultivating Technological Savviness
Familiarity with various digital platforms, applications, and tools empowers negotiators to leverage technology to their advantage. We have seen Google Sheets, Jamboard, Mural, Miro, Slack and Teams and many others, all used to great effect.
Whatever you choose, just make sure you are clear on how you will use it before you are ‘in’ the thick of the negotiation.
Whether it be utilising collaborative workspaces, virtual whiteboards, or sophisticated data analytics tools, negotiators who embrace these technological advancements will gain a competitive edge in achieving better-negotiated outcomes.
Enhancing Virtual Collaboration
Collaboration lies at the heart of successful negotiations, and the remote landscape demands enhancing virtual collaboration skills. Negotiators must become proficient in orchestrating collaborative efforts through digital platforms. This involves facilitating brainstorming sessions, utilising virtual breakout rooms (all of which are central to our remote learning experiences), and implementing effective project management techniques.
By leveraging technology to its fullest potential, negotiators can ensure seamless collaboration and foster an environment conducive to creative problem-solving.
Remote negotiation is not without its challenges. However, it can present many opportunities for those willing to adapt and embrace this new normal.
Gone are the days of board room negotiations facing off together as the default; remote negotiations are here to stay and are not just a temporary response to a global pandemic but rather an enduring transformation that is reshaping the way we interact and conduct business.
The digitisation of negotiation processes has created a new normal, one that demands the acquisition of skills tailored to the remote landscape. Negotiators who embrace this will emerge as the most effective negotiators in the room.
We’d love to read your comments or thoughts.
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