Two Tips For Making Negotiating On The Phone Work For You

When you are negotiating on the phone, don't forget your notes
When you are negotiating on the phone, don’t forget your notes
Image Credit: Saskia

Ah, the phone negotiation. This type of negotiation is just like negotiating face-to-face with all of the same negotiation styles and negotiating techniques, right? Umm, actually no, it isn’t. There are a lot of things that you and I know that we need to do when we are negotiating face-to-face that it can be all too easy to forget about when we are negotiating over the phone. Perhaps we should take just a moment and review two of these critical tasks.

Notes Are Your Friend When You Are Negotiating On The Phone

When you and I sit down across the table from the other side during a face-to-face negotiation, we have a very good understanding of just how complicated this negotiating business can be. What this means is that we generally do a very good job of taking notes. Detailed notes. However, for some mysterious reason when we get involved in a phone negotiation, we can forget to perform this critically important task.

When we are negotiating on the phone, note taking is at least as important if not more important as when we are negotiating face-to-face. What this means is that we need to make sure that as the various parts of the negotiation unfold including what was decided, where there were still disagreements, definitions, and new issues that popped up during the negotiation we need to remember to take notes. Taking great notes is critical, but then you also have to make sure that once the negotiation is done with that you file the notes that you took immediately so that they don’t get lost.

Even when we negotiate over the phone, a negotiation can consist of several phone calls. Because of this, we need to make sure that we date our notes in order to be able to keep them separated. Adding the name of the person or persons that we were talking with can also be a big help. If we ever have to refer to our notes, then the neater they are the easier this task will be.

Phone Negotiations Require A Follow-Up Email

Most phone negotiations end when we hang up the phone. However, what we need to realize is that is really just the midpoint in one of these negotiations. You and I need to take the time to document what just happened on the phone by sending the other side an email summarizing the issues that were discussed. This includes what was decided, what still needs to be worked out, and the deadlines that are associated with this negotiation.

One of the problems that we all face when we are dealing with a phone negotiation is that people tend to treat them fairly causally. This means that they may not take the time to remember what was discussed or what was agreed to. What this means for you is that taking the time to document what was discussed and sharing this with the other side is a critical part of making sure that you didn’t just waste your time on the phone.

One of the most powerful reasons for sending a follow-up email after conducting a negotiation on the phone is that very few people will object to what you tell them. The power of seeing negotiating notes written down is enough to get most people to agree with them no matter what you wrote. Sending a follow-up email can be a great way to deal with any contradictions that the other side may create later on or act as a reminder of important decisions that were reached.

What All Of This Means For You

Negotiating on the phone can be very different from negotiating face-to-face. Because we don’t have to get dressed up (or even take a shower for that matter), it is very easy for us to forget to do some of the critical tasks that need to be done in order to get the results that we want.

One critical task is to make sure that you take good notes when you are negotiating on the phone. All of the things that you would document during a face-to-face meeting need to be captured during a phone principled negotiation. Good notes will help you to remind the other side of what was agreed to during the negotiation. When the phone negotiation is over, you need to document the discussions and the agreements. The best way to go about doing this is to send the other side a follow-up email. Doing this will confirm your view of the outcome of the negotiation.

Every negotiation is a complex set of actions that we are required to perform in order to achieve the results that we want. When we find ourselves in a situation where we are negotiating on the phone instead of face-to-face, we need to remember what works for us when we are face-to-face: taking good notes and good follow up. If we can keep both of these tasks in mind, then our phone negotiations can be just as effective as our face-to-face negotiations.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: What’s the best way to keep your focus during a phone negotiation so that you’ll take good notes?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

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.