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Tactics for Negotiating through IT

What are some tactics for improving negotiation through information technology?

Attempt to ascertain our negotiation partner’s affective qualities. The other side’s experienced emotions may “leak” from verbal expressions during the negotiation. Their moods may be learned from secondary sources of information, such as conversations with a third party prior to the negotiation.

  • Establish a RelationshipWhere social perceptions and intimacy have not been established, such as negotiations between strangers, the lack of visual access, synchronicity, and efficacy inherent in e-mail can result in less cooperation, coordination, truth telling, and rapport building. even in a purely distributive, single-issue negotiation, the use of information technology can alter the likelihood of success depending on the extent to which the other party is perceived as a stranger.  Establishing a face-to-face meeting prior to negotiation may aid in this. In any event, it may be advantageous to avoid less intimate communication methods (such as email) until a relationship is formed. Including a photograph in an e-mail is a technique that has been associated with gaining compliance with unsolicited requests sent by strangers.
  • Establish Common GroundA basis for common ground—whether it is a prior relationship, in-group membership, or a brief personal e-mail chat before negotiating—can mitigate the negative effects of negotiating through IT. Exchange of personal information via e-mail or having a preliminary phone conversation are methods of establishing common ground sufficiently, at least in some contexts, to overcome the disadvantages conferred by the e-mail medium. Left to their own devices, negotiators using e-mail will naturally attempt to establish common ground by engaging in an initial exchange of personal information that promotes cooperation and trust.
  • Schmoozing – Superficial contact that has the psychological effect of establishing a relationship between people. The reciprocal exchange of crucial information about relative preferences and priorities is higher among negotiators who schmooze and develop a basis for trust. Negotiators who schmooze expect more strongly to cooperate, do cooperate by sharing more relevant multiple-issue information, and receive more cooperation in return from their counterpart. Behaving cooperatively in such a way that leads to a greater probability of agreement and more equal sharing of surplus. Negotiators who schmooze form an impression of their counterpart as significantly more accomplished, skilled, effective, and perceptive than the impression formed by negotiators who did not schmooze.
  • Demonstrate reciprocity – Reciprocity sparked by a cooperative gesture can make e-negotiations significantly less competitive. For example, when one party made a disclosure of private information regarding his BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement)—and by implication, his reservation price—at the start of a purely distributive e-negotiation, competition was suppressed, leading the other party to both make less demanding offers as well as settle for less profit. Regardless of the task at hand, those communicating via technology use a significantly higher proportion of questions and produced a higher proportion of self-disclosures. By contrast, those interacting face-to-face displayed a greater proportion of other types of expressions, such as greetings, back-channeling statements, imperatives, statements about third parties, statements of fact that were not personal in nature, and other filler items that were neither questions nor statements of self-disclosure.

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