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How 'chit chat' can get you a better deal

As we seemingly hurtle towards the future, employing a multitude of different communication channels in the workplace, the choice of the platforms where we play out Commercial Conflict Resolution becomes greater and more complex.

We’re often asked ‘What's the best way to approach email commercial conflict?

Email is difficult – without verbal context and intonation or body language we’re left with limited clues with which we can work.

Whilst there are great questions we can articulate, proposal structures we can use and even some indicators we can follow – we’re still very much in the dark as to how the other side really ‘feel’.

A recent study by Stanford university* confirms that it is ‘extremely difficult’ to build trust on email. The study found that with email communication;

· Parties felt less in sync due to increased turn taking responses

· People are 10 times less likely to ask clarifying questions

· More frequent, but less effective multi-issue proposals were made

· There is an increased severity of ultimatums and threats

What the study did find was that a personalised non-business telephone conversation “schmoozing” before engaging in e-mail, built rapport. It enabled the parties to anticipate and plan a cooperative, positive negotiation experience from the outset, attaining better economic and social outcomes.

So, the next time a commercial conflict comes your way, pick up the phone (or reach out for a virtual meeting) before you fully engage on email – you’ll probably end up with a better deal and relationship.

Sam Macbeth 8th July 2021

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