7 Virtual Negotiation Traps & How to Avoid Them
As a virtual negotiation skills speaker, when presenting to groups I stress that many virtual negotiations are often “over” before you even have the chance to talk. In the “olden days” of about eight months ago, when we negotiated in-person, we had many visual cues, voice inflections and other intangibles to judge what the other side was thinking.
Now, we have big and little squares on our computer screens. Some of you may be feeling “lost.” Don’t feel lost before you have a chance to speak. In my virtual negotiation skills talks, I stress that we must be aware of virtual negotiation traps. Let’s review seven of these traps in this post.
7 Virtual Negotiation Traps to Avoid
- “Forgive Me, I Don’t Know the Technology, Part I” – Perhaps you’re working from home, but that doesn’t mean you need to glorify the distractions. Children, the cursing parrot, in-laws, toilet sounds flushing “off stage left,” or the guy fixing the furnace are no longer “cute, understandable” interruptions. Find a room, a place, a setting where you are focused and uninterrupted. Do everything possible to ensure there are no problems that will impede communication. Many homes have areas where there are problem communication spots. Stay away from them.
- “Forgive Me, I Don’t Know the Technology, Part II” – A lack of sophistication with the videoconferencing technology will not win you points. It is a trap. Yes, there are glitches that often occur, but not knowing the technology itself shows negotiation weakness. Make sure that you and your team are up-to-speed on the skills the software may require. Practice, practice and more practice. By the way, there are at least five or six super-popular videoconferencing platforms. If you can, steer the negotiation to the platform with which you are most familiar.
- “We’re on Lockdown, So Let’s Be Pals” – Perhaps it’s television or commercial messages, but don’t allow images of casual business environments to lead your team to believing a high-level negotiation should now be a sloppy, dressed-down, bad-hair day conversation. Your team’s mindset must be no different than if everyone were meeting in an office. Make sure this point in understood and appreciated.
- “Sometimes it’s No One’s Fault” – Videoconferencing technology is imperfect, no matter how proficient you may be. We can get “kicked-off,” frames can freeze, sound becomes garbled or jumps. Be professional and take the initiative by suggesting some ground rules for if and when technology may fail. Couch it in terms of being a good-guy where the desire is to keep everything fair.
- “Stop Looking at the Potted Plant.” – Look directly into the camera; make and maintain eye contact. It takes work to learn to do this. Look into the camera and not at the face in “the box.”
- “Stop the Background Static.” – Please turn off your audio if your comments are not needed. Similarly, if your video is not needed, there is no reason to risk distraction or embarrassment by staying in view. Speaking of serious “static,” it is absolutely essential that no unauthorized, uninvited people show up in the negotiation. It is a good idea to consult with your IT people about how you can exclude unwanted interruptions.
- “Speaking from a Cave?” Lighting – or lack of it – can be a huge distraction. Your negotiating team will come across as being invisible if they are sitting in dim light. There are all sorts of cheap gadgets that will illuminate your face. On the other hand, please learn techniques for blurring your background.
Virtual Negotiation Skills traps have the ability to bring an otherwise successful negotiation to a screeching halt. Please don’t be the one to stop the progress.
To book Mike Hourigan Virtual Negotiation Skills Speaker, for your next meeting or conference call today at (704) 875-3030 or by filling out the form on this page.