Negotiate digitally with success

The topic of digititalization was on everyone’s mind long before the Corona era. Thanks to Corona, digititalization is advancing very fast. From school lessons and seminars to shareholder meetings, medical consultations, working in the home office, and court hearings, the switch to digital took place at the speed of light. Unimaginable a few years ago, today it is accepted reality.

The important thing here is what will survive the pandemic and become normal for us and where will we fall back to old patterns?

Especially when it comes to negotiating, we as negotiation experts ask ourselves: Will we fly to the other end of the world for an important negotiation in the future?

If not:

  • How do we best prepare for digital negotiations?
  • How does the preparation of a digital negotiation differ from a face-to-face negotiation?
  • How do I convey a professional first impression digitally? How do I present myself online and what do I have to pay attention to?
  • How can I digitally build up a relationship with my counterpart, keyword “offer a coffee”?
  • How do I use different digital communication media (video conference, email, telephone) strategically?

These and other questions will be the focus of online negotiations in the future. Digitialization is not just a technology, it is a change in behavior. It is important to build digital negotiation skills and digital awareness.

Check the technology before every digital negotiation

Anyone who regularly holds video conferences knows that technical difficulties can arise again and again. Such disruptions can throw us completely off track during the negotiation. Test and practice the video technology before each negotiation. However, keep in mind that technical difficulties may still arise. Stay calm. Your counterpart has certainly experienced something similar before.

Clarify the rules of the game regarding video recording in advance

Although the ability to be secretly recorded is a risk in any type of negotiation, video negotiations can easily be recorded. In addition, others could listen quietly and possibly even advise the other person off-screen. Clarify right at the beginning, whether recording is permitted.

Build trust

In videoconferencing, we see less of the other person and their surroundings than in face-to-face negotiations, and we cannot see what is going on outside the narrow screen. To compensate for such visual deficits, keep your hand gestures within the camera frame so that the other person can see them. Clarify right at the beginning, which people or objects are out of the field of vision. Also, minimize the acoustic and visual distractions as much as possible. This creates a trusting environment.

Desktop sharing is helpful but dangerous

It is essential to ensure that only information relevant to the meeting can be seen. That means: close unnecessary content and windows and set up a separate desktop on which no files or shortcuts can be seen.

Pay attention to your body language

You cannot not communicate. This is even more true of digital communication.
You can also get very close to someone digitally – and move away. Take advantage of this by straightening up and approaching the camera in certain situations. Often one leans over with a bent posture in front of the monitor. If possible, position the monitor with the camera at eye level so that the view is clear and straight ahead. The upper body and hands should be clearly visible.
Make sure the area behind you is neutral and professional. Ironing board and clothes hangers have no place in the background.