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How to Successfully Negotiate in Writing

» Introduction
When you negotiate in writing, compared to face to face, do you change your negotiation style? If you don’t, you should consider doing so. After all, cues you would otherwise pick up in a face to face negotiation, you’ll miss, because you won’t be able to discern nonverbal signals and other cues you’d gather in face to face negotiating.
» Step 1
How then do you gain an advantage when you negotiate in writing? The answer, you have to be more aware of the meaning of the words in the communications. You must pay very close attention to the placement of the words, and understand how the author expresses and states his position; you should also observe how your opponent interprets the words you use. In essence, as you express your negotiation position, you need to determine the impact your words will have on your opponent. You’ll also have to take into consideration the culture of the other person/people and the meaning that some words have in his/their culture.

There are some things you need to do regardless of whether you’re negotiating face to face, over the phone, or via written communications. You still have to go about gathering background information on the subject you’re negotiating with. In so doing, in addition to the ‘normal’ information you’d look for, when negotiating in written form, you also need to retrieve written samples of that person’s writing style. The purpose of this exercise will become extensively more valuable as you go deeper into the negotiation process.

In my live presentation, I talk about ways to gather background information on people, such as using the Internet, speaking to other people they do business with, people in organizations that they belong to, etc. I also expound on the fact that you should always verify the information you receive, because your strategy, the course of action you will adopt to reach the goals of the negotiation are directly tied to the input you receive from your background gathering activities.

It’s easy to capture written samples. Before the negotiation is due to officially begin (the more lead time you have the better), communicate with the subject of the negotiation and inform him of a circumstance or situation that you’d like his opinion or input on. When he replies, observe his writing style. Continue down the same path until you’ve received what you consider to be sufficient writing samples; that will allow you to get an insight into how he uses different phases to convey his meanings. Once you enter into the official negotiation, match his negotiation writing style against the style he used when he didn’t consider himself to be negotiating. Take note of any word difference, to the degree that the implication of words used before the negotiation takes on additional or different meanings. By noting the conveyance of different meanings, you’ll gain insight into how he might be changing his manner of negotiating; you should also be able to detect when he’s switched from a pleasant mode to one that is sterner.

In the end it’s the change from what you’ve perceived to be a nice and meaningful flow in the negotiation that will indicate the acceptance or level of uneasiness with your position. Nevertheless, by paying attention to how he manipulates phases and the manner by which he conveys his position, you’ll be able to determine how he might respond to additional offerings you ‘put on the table’. By having this insight, you’ll know upon which path to take the negotiation and in the end, you should have an easier path to a successful negotiation outcome … and everything will be right with the world.


The Negotiation Lessons are …

· When you negotiate in writing, raise your level of awareness to the degree that you are highly perceptive to the manner specific words are used by your opponent.

· If you’re not sure of the position your opponent is trying to stake, communicate your lack of understanding to make sure both of you are on the same page.

· Make sure you get what you perceive to be a sufficient number of writing samples from your opponent. The purpose of this exercise is to highlight the idea of being able to compare the style of his writings in a nonthreatening environment compared to one that he might feel pressure. By doing so, you’ll gain insight into when your opponent is becoming stern compared to accepting your position.

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