negotiating by email

Published on by Lisa Gates.

If you’re considering commencing negotiations with e-mail, you should remember that the social scientists have concluded that electronic communications are “profoundly a-social” and are more likely than not to be misconstrued. Couple this knowledge with the understanding that first impressions are extremely hard to overcome and you’ll want to reconsider opening your negotiation with a writing.

Once your negotiation partner takes an initial position, several cognitive biases come into play ~> confirmation bias – our universal tendency to search for and interpret information in a way that confirms our preconceptions and devalues any evidence that might support the other’s position; and, self-serving bias – our universal tendency to take self-interested positions and to assert them in a biased way. Placing others in a partisan role (assuming their interests are contrary to ours) only strengthens these biases.

In other words, if you commence your negotiations with email, you are starting out with three strikes against you and are unlikely to be able to undo the damage done. Remembering that negotiation is only a conversation leading to agreement, invite your bargaining partner out for lunch or coffee or a drink. Sharing food releases the feel-good, trust building, bonding hormone oxytocin that will commence your negotiation in the best possible way leading to the best possible outcome.

Knowing these few facts will make you the Queen of Negotiations in your neighborhood. 

For further resources and deeper reading on this topic see:

Priming Legal Negotiations Through Written Demands (non-lawyers can scroll past the initial sections on legal demand letters); and,

Dealing with Jerks:  Tit for Tat in an Email World


Conflict Resolution

Published on by Lisa Gates.