Computers – A Challenge To Effective Negotiations

communication and computersIf you want to do more than to just make your point, do not send your girlfriend a text or e-mail hoping to save the cost of roses. It might settle the argument but you have sent her a strong signal that you lack the style, warmth and respect to warrant her love and affection. Make your communication personal to make it meaningful.

The computer age has brought about speed, efficiency and, unfortunately, a diminishment of personal interaction. The former are good, the latter can be devastating to settling a dispute. All the benefits of the electronic age, e-mail, faxes, word processors and spreadsheet programs, can be lost if one relies too heavily on these impersonal tools.

Faxes, e-mails and texts are great for quick responses. But there is a reason to pace your response. Besides giving you time to reflect on how to respond, the timing of a response signals your eagerness to the other party.

Do not be forced into instantaneous negotiations just because we live in the nanosecond era. If the issue is important to you, slow the pace and be deliberate.

Use computers to prepare documents. But make sure you review the final drafts carefully for missed changes. Slow down, an extra hour of review and corrections could save you a lot of embarrassment.

Computers are great strategic planning tools. Use them to plan and prepare. When you start an actual settlement discussionn, leave the computers behind. PowerPoint presentations are for sales pitches, not dispute resolution. Negotiating requires a human element to persuade the parties to work together.

Do not use electronic tools to deliver arguments. E-mail at best is impersonal. The art of negotiating requires interaction between the parties. This is not possible when negotiating through an e-mail, text, fax or even an old-fashioned letter.

Negotiating is a multi-dimensional, interpersonal art form. An e-mail, text or fax is at best one-dimensional and allows for no observable feedback, verbal or non-verbal, when it is delivered and read.

In Seven Secrets to WINNING Without Losing a Friend, I discuss how technology has changed the negotiating process and ways to avoid the negative aspects of that change while embracing to beneficial aspects.

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