Controlling the Negotiation Process

The objective of any negotiation may seem simple at first: sit around a table, listen and understand each other, be confident in sharing information with the other party, identify your interests, be creative in finding solutions, obtain resources and, lastly, use common sense to find an honorable and satisfactory solution for all.

However, in reality it is more complicated, so it is essential that you control the negotiating process well.

Thus, if you want to succeed in negotiations, always remember these premises:

  • Listen carefully to identify the other party’s interests, motivations and possible objections.
  • Ask clear questions. Asking questions is essential because they will gain you information, especially open-ended questions.
  • Create a favorable climate with the other party. Convey to the other party that you want to negotiate, reach an agreement and respect it.
  • Don’t lie. This is not so much about ethics. Lying is not effective simply because it can cause us an unacceptable risk, which is losing the trust of the other party.
  • Emphasize the benefits that you propose.
  • Don’t rush.

Don’t forget that negotiation is an active and moving process in which you must constantly adapt to the circumstances.

In this post, we add some premises related to online negotiations, which are so common today.


Shaking hands, maintaining eye contact, sharing meals and endless meetings in conference rooms are everyday negotiating tools, and with a good goal: research shows that negotiators who meet in person reach better deals than those who negotiate online. Face-to-face meetings offer invaluable non-verbal and verbal cues such as eye contact, body language and the tone of voice, which facilitate understanding and create lasting bonds.

Thanks to the variety of the means of communication available to us, from phone calls to video conferences and text messages, we can continue to do business even when we are physically far away.

  1. Think about the likely scope of your agreement. Given the importance and complexity of any given negotiations, it will probably be postponed at first, but this will not always be the most advantageous for our interests but with some creativity, the smallest agreements and even some larger ones are certainly feasible from a distance and can be critical to companies struggling to stay afloat in the midst of the economic downturn. It is important in difficult times to contact your current and/or potential partners and determine if they can help each other.
  2. Alternate between different communication media. Even when working from home, negotiators have a wide variety of media at their disposal, including phone calls, video conferences, emails and text messages. Which one can we choose? Throughout your negotiation, choose the most appropriate tool for the task at hand. At the beginning of an online negotiation, you can focus on establishing a good relationship and evaluating the other party’s interest in reaching an agreement. A video conference will offer extensive verbal and non verbal cues, such as eye contact, body language and the tone of voice, in addition to potentially bringing together multiple parties in remote locations. Later in the process, email and file-sharing applications may be best for exchanging detailed proposals and working together on documents.
  3. Give your counterparts the benefit of the doubt. Since they lack verbal and visual cues, emails and texts can easily be misinterpreted (although emojis can help). In this time of uncertainty and anxiety, misunderstandings and conflicts may be more likely. If a counterpart goes silent, don’t assume they are ignoring you just to get an advantage. And don’t be offended immediately if a message seems brusk or rude. Sharing interests and asking about the other party’s status will help to build trust, a good relationship and a more lasting agreement
  4. Be collaborative. As we’ve already seen, negotiators who take a cooperative and mutually beneficial approach to doing business outperform those with a win-lose mindset.
  5. Don’t normalize the situation. Although we can negotiate online, we try as much as possible to continue negotiating in person. Despite the fact that this involves some additional costs, it also brings many benefits, especially for the relationship between negotiators.
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