Virtual Negotiations

5 Golden rules of video conference negotiation from Scotwork

Published: Mar 19 , 2020
Author: Suzanne Reijn

While the Corona ghost now haunts all over the Netherlands, there are more and more companies in which people have to maintain their contacts via video, Skype, Zoom or other online programs. Negotiations are also increasingly taking place online instead of face to face. And although not ideal, we will have to make do with it for the time being.

Especially for the people who have to negotiate online the 5 golden tips from Scotwork.

1. Prepare yourself

Now you have always done that (...?) but for the people who were a bit less precise in it, when negotiating online, preparation is even more essential.

Before the meeting, discuss with your team members what the objectives are, where your limits or alternatives are, where you have or do not have flexibility and what things could improve the agreement for you. Write down which information you need to give and get. 

If you are going to negotiate with a team, agree who will be the leader of the meeting, who will make the summaries and who will take minutes or notes, for example.

At Scotwork, we work with the Online Preparation Tool that allows you to prepare your negotiations online and real time with your team.

Also prepare yourself well for the technical aspects of negotiating via video. Test your bandwidth, microphone and camera before the meeting. Make sure you have good lighting and that you don't have your back to a window. Also test the software you are using and familiarize with the technical possibilities the software offers. 

2. Turn on the "Mute button" for better listening

When you are sitting together at the table, good listening is a tricky skill. But when communicating  via video good listening is paramount. During our training sessions, I often tell our participants, I immediately know whether or not people are listening to one another. The key to that insight is when someone starts talking before the last word has left the other party's mouth. You probably haven't listened then, but while the other person was talking, you were thinking about what you're going to say as soon as you get the chance. The golden rule therefore is: listen with interest to what the other person has to say and only react when he is quiet for three seconds.

In video negotiations, always turn on your "mute" button and only if you want to speak, turn on your microphone. (You will wish you have this button in your face to face meetings as well!)

If questions arise in your head while someone is talking, share them with the other participants via the chat window.

3. Summarise regularly

To avoid misunderstandings; summarise regularly. The task of the 'summarizer' during  negotiations is similar to that of the 'yellow cloth', they make sure that the table is kept clear of misunderstandings. Summarise to clarify; summarise proposals from the other party or summarise to save time to think. Another tip is to make a document for instance in Google Docs, that you can share online and realtime, to write down the summaries that both parties are making. This way it is also easy to make an agreement that is supported by all parties.

4. Make your proposals in a structured way

Many people find it difficult to get their proposal across in a structured way. The most structured way of making proposals is as follows:

  • Make the proposal and put conditions before offers  (“My proposal is ABC”)
  • Explain the elements of the proposal ("A means this, B means that and C means that")
  • Summarise your proposal ("So my proposal is ABC")
  • Invite to a response ("What do you think of my proposal?")

What you should not do is explain the different elements of your proposal, while making the proposal. ("My proposal is A and that means this and B and that means that and...") The other party will be completely lost in no time and no longer knows where the beginning and the end of your proposal is.  

5. Take regular time outs

Also with face to face meeting we advise our participants to regularly take a time out in their negotiations. For example, because new information comes up or because the chosen strategy does not work as agreed. If you and your team are all at a different location, it is difficult to consult with each other during the negotiations. Therefore, allow for sufficient time outs. It is better to have several short conversations than one very long conversation. 

A handy feature with Zoom (meeting software), for example, is that you can also go into a breakout room. You can then consult with your team in a separate (virtual) room, without the other party being able to hear or see you.  

If you want to prepare for negotiations via video during your quarantine, Scotwork now also offers the Advancing Negotiation Skills course online. Not as an e-learning program, but with the same interaction and experience as in the room! Call or mail us for more information. 


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5 Golden rules of video conference negotiation from Scotwork

While the Corona ghost now haunts all over the Netherlands, there are more and more companies in which people have to maintain their contacts via video, Skype, Zoom or other online programs. Negotiations are also increasingly taking place online instead of face to face. And although not ideal, we will have to make do with it for the time being. Especially for the people who have to negotiate online the 5 golden tips from Scotwork.

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