Since the pandemic of 2020, many business systems and operations have moved online for safety and efficiency. Employees have had to make adjustments to maintain the same level of productivity, even as they try to adjust to what is arguably an unprecedented situation. You, as an entrepreneur, will also need to adapt. Negotiations, for example, have changed. Gone are the days of facing off with people in a boardroom. Now, you have to do that online, which changes many aspects of the interaction. Here are seven online negotiation tips from Jason Kulpa that should help you get what you want for your startup:
1. Read Deeper into Tone of Text
Reading body language will be more difficult, even with video help. Many interactions won’t even be done over a call, with most of the discussion happening over email or instant messaging. You need to start reading into the tone of text if you want to negotiate well. If the message is short, it often means the other party is losing interest. Longer messages, on the flip side, tend to indicate interest. Use that information to match their tone and see what to do next.
2. Engage in Video Calls as Much as Possible
Video calls give you a lot of information, from body language to facial expressions. It allows you to replicate as much of the face-to-face negotiation experience as possible, even if you’re talking to someone in a different time zone. That will let you be more personable and make the discussion go smoothly.
3. Make it a Point to Summarize Meetings
Attention spans tend to drift during meetings, and they drift even more during video calls and lengthy negotiations. Aside from the format naturally allowing for distractions, being on a desktop or mobile device allows push notifications to draw attention away, so even the most focused attendants may find their attention drawn away enough to miss out on crucial details. Frequently summarizing talking points and recently made decisions minimizes miscommunication and ensures that all parties are on the same page.
4. Keep Conflict Resolution Out of Emails
Relying on emails can be challenging when resolving any conflict when negotiating with another entity. Emails may lead to recipients assuming the worst in your message. Stick to video, or at the very least a voice call, if a problem arises at the virtual negotiation table. That way, you can present your point correctly and with the right tone.
5. Do More Research
To get as much as possible right, it is essential to spend more time researching and studying. You won’t avoid all potential misunderstandings or miscommunications, but you can certainly minimize them.
6. Set Ground Rules and Boundaries Early
Face-to-face meetings tend to have many unspoken rules that most people are aware of. However, the same cannot be said of online negotiations. To make sure that they go as smoothly as possible, you and the other party must set boundaries. Those boundaries should include participants and disclosure agreements, and logistical concerns such as meeting times. The more details you can sort out before starting, the better the experience will be for all parties.
7. When It Doubt, Keep It Short
Negotiations are inherently stressful and can be difficult when done normally. Add in the pressure of potentially unstable Internet connections, as well as the awkwardness of video chat, and you have a recipe for disaster. Keep tempers and emotions in check by keeping meetings short. Go for brief encounters with tightly planned agendas, and resist the urge to extend just because everyone feels good.
Holding negotiations online is far from impossible, but smart entrepreneurs will know to make the right adjustments. Do so, and you will find the work-from-home future profitable for you and your startup.
About Jason Kulpa:
Jason Kulpa is a serial entrepreneur and the Founder and CEO of UE.co, San Diego’s Fastest Growing Business multi-year award winner, and a Certified Great Place to Work multi-year winner. Mr. Kulpa is a San Diego’s two-time winner of the Most Admired CEO Award of the San Diego Business Journal and also a semi-finalist for the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur award. Under Mr. Kulpa’s leadership, in 2018, his teams volunteered at over 24 events and worked side-by-side to improve the San Diego community. They hosted a gala dinner benefiting individuals with autism, cheered on Special Olympic athletes as they broke their records on the track, and brought school supplies and cold-weather gear to students impacted by homelessness. Jason’s mission is to bring awareness, support, and inclusion for special needs causes.