Technology and Human Communication

21st century communication tools have dramaticaly changed the negotiating process. We live in the communication era complete with faxes, mobile phones, laptops, PCs, PDAs that retrieve and send e-mails, the Internet, DSL and modem connections, video conferences, and pagers. And that is today. Tomorrow there will be even more ways to stay in touch or communicate.

We are trained to be readily accessible and available on demand with nano-second technology. It is almost a distinction to be the most-available executive on a team. Our generation expects instant gratification. That includes responsiveness. This immediacy is not necessarily good for negotiations. Like a fine wine, some negotiations require time to come to their full bloom.

Negotiating is an art and art should not be rushed.

The compressed time of today's electronically connected world takes the finesse out of negotiating. If you want to barter, succumb to nano-second technology. If you want to negotiate, require face-to-face meetings and save the time-saving technology for procedural matters.

There are times to use technology. But make sure you use it to your advantage and don't succumb to the expectations of others to do so just to make them happy. You are entitled to your privacy. You are also entitled to time your responses to your liking.

- E-mail is a great vehicle for quick, casual communication. It is no replacement for negotiating terms unless you have established a rapport with the other person and know that the essential negotiations are either resolved or will be handled at a future meeting. When responding to an e-mail consider that the timing of a response sends a distinct message. A prompt response can indicate eagerness to settle, desperation, or a lack of options on your part. A delayed response generally indicates the issue is not one of your priorities, you have other options, or that you are not very happy with the terms.

- Facsimiles and e-mail attached documents can move the documentation process along swiftly. This is to your advantage when you have made a good deal and don't want time to erode that agreement. But if you have yet to agree and need to gather additional information, choose the traditional method of transmitting documents, the U.S. Mail, to give you time to finish your research or explore other options.

- The Internet is an invaluable research tool. Use it to research your opponent. Assume that he or she will be doing the same thing. Make sure you don't have too much information about yourself on the 'net'.

- On screen reading is fine for the news. Don't scan through documents on the screen. Print and read important documents. Take your time and consider each important paragraph.

You need not give others your e-mail address or fax numbers even if asked. That information allows others to invade your privacy. Provide it only to those you want to have priority access to you.