We know that face-to-face communication is a rich medium because we transmit both visual and vocal cues, while e-mail communication has neither. On one side e-mail may seem to be a more “business-like” approach, but it also eliminates rapport building and subtle body-language communication as well. Studies have shown that e-mail negotiations have five major implications:1. Increased contentiousness
2. Diminished information sharing
3. Diminished process cooperation
4. Diminished trust
5. Increased effects of negative attribution
The reality is that when people are not face-to-face they are more susceptible to “put on an act,” posture or adopt “tough-guy attitudes” instead of opening up to a cooperative exchange. Whenever possible, e-mail needs to be used as a tool to further negotiations once a basic rapport and trust have been established face-to-face, and not as a substitute for personal interaction. Having said this, effective negotiators must be prepared to engage their counterparts online. In order to further negotiations via e-mail we need to develop an effective skill set in these four areas:
- Writing Ability
- Message Management
- Relationship Management
- Content Management
Also, keep in mind that due to its nature, e-mail does not lend itself equally to both information processing styles. An analytical-rational type (which uses positions, limits, logic and facts) benefits much more from e-mail negotiating than the intuitive-experiential type (which uses emotion, personal experience, intuition and metaphors). This may very well be a new field within negotiating, which has been growing simply because the amount of cyber-communications in businesses is increasing at a steady clip.
If you’d like to learn more on the subject, I suggest you click here to read the article You've Got Agreement: Negotiating via Email.