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Negotiating in Writing or Negotiating in Email

Without the immediacy of face-to-face communications, written negotiation provides time and distance – two significant advantages.  Most importantly there is time to carefully consider the information offered and to craft a reply that is well reasoned and thoroughly researched.  Negotiating in writing also provides the distance necessary for emotions and whims to be removed as a factor.  And by its very nature, negotiating in writing provides a transcript of the process that keeps all parties accountable to their positions.

To successfully complete a written negotiation, there are some steps that will help you present your best positions.

1. Know Who You Are Negotiating With
As with all negotiations, get as much background on the other party as possible.  Review any previous written information you have received from them for clues to style and word choices.  Check to see if the communication is direct or indirect, formal or informal, positive or negative.  These clues will help you author replies that are more readily accepted.

2. Watch for Changes in Tone
Once the negotiations are underway, watch each new communication for changes in tone from the previously established pattern.  Try to notice if negative, short or terse replies become common.  Likewise notice expansive or evasive replies.  These changes in tone will help you understand the changing positions of the other party.

3. Think Before You Send
Review the actual individual words of your negotiation before you press “Send.”  Check to see if any of the words may hold a different meaning for the other party.  Avoid, define or remove any slang, jargon, and acronyms.

Negotiating in writing has some advantages and a few disadvantages.  Adding this dimension to your arsenal of professional negotiation skills will increase your ability to successfully negotiate with almost anyone.