In an ideal world, all business negotiations would occur face-to-face. This would allow both participants an opportunity to react to body language or employ a few tried-and-true negotiating tactics, including the long pause, threat of walking away or a variety of other skills gained while earning a masters degree in negotiation. However, many people are finding that because of time and geographical constraints, they must perform many functions online, including negotiating via email. If you’re faced with the dilemma of mediating or hammering out a deal through email, here are helpful tips and suggestions.
Initiate the Conversation in Person… or at Least Over the Phone
No matter how the other party begins the correspondence, take it upon yourself to call or speak to the individual face-to-face. This helps you gauge the individual’s personality, which can ultimately prevent any future misunderstandings. Did the individual seem amiable or was he very studious?After making a little joke, did the person laugh or seem put-off by your lack of professionalism? If you both decide to continue the conversation via email, use this insight to prevent alienating or even offending the other party in the future.
Make a Connection
Email is quick and convenient, but it’s also very impersonal. While you’re continuing to correspond try to remember the other person is aflesh and blood human being and you both probably have a lot in common. For instance, add a few lines near the end about your weekend plans with your kids or about the terrible weather you’re experiencing. If the person doesn’t respond and keeps the email very professional, take this as a cue to do the same. However, you might find that maintaining a personable rapport helps the negotiations move along more smoothly.
Compose Thoughtful Emails
The biggest downfall of email negotiations is the inability to gauge the other person’s tone and body language. This is why it’s important to be very clear and never compose emails that can be read as hostile, inappropriate or insincere. Sure, you knew you were joking, but the other party cannot see that smile on your face. Along similar lines, it’s also important to never respond immediately to a negative email. Instead, reread the correspondence a few times and respond calmly, or risk sending out a hasty reply that could ruin the entire deal.
Timing Is Everything
Another major downfall of negotiating online is downtime, especially if you don’t make it clear to the other party that you’d appreciate a speedy response. Remember that although you might be courteous enough to reply within a few minutes or hours of receiving an email, the other party might not return the favor. So instead of becoming enraged while you wait days for a response, politely tell the other party you’d appreciate a quick reply. Remember that even if you ask for a quick response it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get one. Just sit back, breathe and the email will come eventually.
Get Everything in Writing
As the negotiation nears its conclusion, it’s vital to stop all email correspondence and execute a written agreement. It’s much easier for both parties involved to understand the terms of an agreement if they’re written on paper and not disputed back and forth over a series of confusing emails. Once the matter is settled, make a hard copy of all the emails instead of just relying on your computer’s memory to keep the information safe. Earning an IT masters degree online can help prevent unnecessary meltdowns and system failure, but to avoid any later “he said, she said” battles, it’s still better to copy and catalog all emails.
The convenience of negotiating via email is making this option more popular. However, if the negotiations begin to fall apart, or if the other party isn’t responding to your emails, don’t hesitate to shut your laptop and pick up the phone.
About the Author: Kelly Knight is a guest blogger and graduate student. Kelly is currently earning an IT master’s degree and hopes to open a small consulting firm in the future.