During our Social Media Innovation class we did a workshop in which we had to negotiate data rights and privacy. I was fascinated by this topic because I had never had any exposure doing those kinds of encounters with other potential partners/clients. I found it challenging to negotiate terms with others and I wanted to learn a bit more, especially about some tactics for having these discussion. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed many things including the way we negotiate which is why I wanted to focus on how to do so remotely as well.
Before tackling tactics that are helpful it is important to highlight that now more than ever is imperative for negotiators to conduct scenario analysis to identify key terms to focus on when discussing these terms with decision makers. There have also been a lot of developments in terms of the tools available to use for negotiation, here are the 9 most relevant and how they can help you in discussions.
- Put together a detailed agenda & assign tasks – Collaborating in the writing of an agenda for the negotiation sets the tone of the discussions. Assigning roles to the team can streamline processes.
2. Shorter and more frequent meetings are better than one long meeting. Video is better as well. – Now more than ever we are interconnected via technology. Having the ability to schedule meetings is simple and efficient so having short meetings is better than half a day full of discussions. Having those brief meetings will enable all participants to be fully engaged and much more if it is through video rather than via email or text.
3. Invite various stakeholders – physical limitations to invite stakeholders has been limited and having the ability to invite them to virtual meetings is common. Utilize the resources available to you and take advantage of various perspectives to achieve better results.
4. Test before using technology – Familiarize yourself and try to limit/avoid any technological disruptions that may occur.
5. Arrange back-channel communication for the group – Set up a separate private messaging system in which your team can gather thoughts, probe specific ideas or agree on topics freely and privately so that the counterpart does not know the discussions.
6. Check on people – Being able to connect with the counterpart, stakeholders and even your own team is important when physical interactions are limited. Ensure that you are always being mindful of others and create partnerships by building trust. Connect at the beginning of calls and have a small chat before starting to negotiate immediately.
7. Privacy cannot be guaranteed at times – Recordings may be in place for meetings so make sure that you are not oversharing, not communicating properly terms that may be misinterpreted or making promises that cannot be fulfilled.
8. Breakout rooms during breaks – In-person negotiations have hallway discussions during break to share notes or important points of view. It is important to plan ahead how these breaks will take place for that no time is wasted.
9. Meeting notes – Misremembering or misinterpreting something can happen so having agreements, next steps etc in a formal document is always best.
In addition to the previous tactics, I wanted to also touch on some strategies to avoid crisis during negotiation. For avoiding to choose between immediate and long term topics, creating “contingent measures” for issues is best. Meaning that if a crisis takes place instead of focusing on one goal to create contingent alternatives that will enable success.
It is also important to move away from the negotiation mindset as it can be a very tense and uncomfortable experience into more of a “collaborative decision making.” In crisis creating more stress, doubt or mistrust will not enable solutions therefore always approaching negotiations with “full, open and truthful exchanges” is key. I have no doubt that at some point in our careers we will have to negotiate with other stakeholders so having these tactics and strategies in mind can be helpful.