One of the challenges that we all encounter when we negotiate on the phone is that this type of negotiation really does not leave much of a paper trail no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques were used. Oh sure, we might be able to point at our calendar after the call is over to show that it was scheduled to happen, but no papers were exchanged and there is really no proof that we talked. This means that what we do after the call is that much more important. This has got to include sending the right type of email to the other party.
Bad News: Grammar & Punctuation Count
I’m not sure what it is about email, but for some mysterious reason none of us seem to treat it like we were creating a formal document. All too often, what this ends up meaning is that we are lax on our checking of both our spelling and our grammar in our emails.
It turns out that making sure that both our spelling and our grammar is done correctly is critical to the message that we want to send. The reason that they are so important is that together they are going to go a long way in making an impression with the person who is reading your email. It will tell them a story about your intelligence, your education, and, of course, your attention to detail. How your email is interpreted will be based on the initial impression that your spelling and grammar creates.
Nonverbal Expressions Are Dangerous
One of the things that is all too easy to overlook when you are creating an email is that when you use nonverbal expressions, they can be misinterpreted by the reader. This can lead to a misunderstanding between you and them.
The problem is that your reader won’t be able to “hear” your tone of voice when they are reading your email. What this means is that they are not going to be able to tell if you were angry or in a friendly mood when you wrote them the email. Saying something like “Please reply immediately” takes on a completely different meaning depending on what you mood is.
The Follow Up Really Counts
Sending an email to the other side after you have completed a phone negotiation is a courtesy. What you are trying to do is to thank them for participating in the negotiations. In your email you are going to want to summarize the things that you’ve agreed on, what deadlines have been set up, and what has been agreed to.
If you do a good job of crafting an email then you will have helped to establish clarity and maintain prospective for the negotiation. Doing this via email is both easy for you to do and easy for the other side to receive. Once they get your email, they can file and save it as needed.
What All Of This Means For You
The best part about negotiating on the phone is that it is so easy to do: no travel is required, no room has to be reserved, all that has to happen is a phone call has to be placed. The disadvantage of negotiating on the phone is that there is no paper trail that the negotiation ever took place.
What this means for us is that once the phone principled negotiation has wrapped up, we need to create an email to send to the other side. When we’re creating this email we need to keep in mind that both grammar and punctuation really do count. The words that we use in our email need to be selected very carefully because nonverbal communication does not come across in an email. Finally, sending an email after the negotiation has completed is both courteous and important.
The good news is that creating an email to send after a negotiation really does not take that much time. The value that we’ll get out of doing this far outweighs the effort that we’ll put into creating it. The next time you complete a phone negotiation, budget some extra time to get that email created, reviewed, and sent so that you’ve documented everything that was agreed to.
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™
Question For You: How long do you think that a post phone negotiation email should be?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
More often than not, the negotiations that I find myself involved in are complex beasts that have a lot of different moving parts. It can become very difficult to keep track of all of the different parts so that I understand what still needs to be worked out. The good news is that this is a very common problem in negotiations. This means that there is a solution for this challenge: a letter of intent (LOI) and a memorandum of understanding (MOU).