How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
When negotiating, you do not need to be face-to-face with the other party. You can use telephone, email, letter and so on. This remote nature of negotiation however does change the dynamic.
When people negotiate face-to-face, they are forced to consider social niceties more than when they are negotiating remotely. Face-to-face negotiations hence tend to be more civilized, with more concessions made and a higher likelihood of reaching a successful agreement.
When face-to-face is not possible, the telephone is the next best thing. However, when people negotiate over the phone, the communicative elements of body language are lost, from gestural signals to eye-to-eye contact. This loss can make agreement more difficult to reach, although if a good relationship has already been established, and particularly if there has already been face-to-face contact, then this can be very helpful.
With increasing use of video conferencing, the loss of the visual aspect can be mitigated, although the quality of the image and also of the sound can still have a significant effect for the better or the worse.
Negotiation by email or letter further separates the two parties such that they do not have to speak to one another.
This method is asynchronous, as there is a delay between each person 'speaking'. This allows time for careful consideration, research and consultation with others, but also stretches out the conversation possibly over a rather long period Where the parties are further apart, it can hence take a long time to to reach agreement. If, however, there is a need for agreement, this may be reached in only a few exchanges.
Email messages are notoriously terse and the additional communication through voice tone and body language are lost, leading to the potential for misunderstanding and conflict.
A proxy is an intermediary, a person who takes your demands and offers and communicates them to the other person. The proxy may be a mutual acquaintance, a lawyer, a mediator or some other person. This may be necessary if the parties are already in conflict or where trust is low.
In negotiation by proxy, the parties may never meet or even know who they are. This can lead to stereotyping, objectification and other caricaturing of each other, which can lead to further problems.
Where negotiation by proxy can work well is where the proxy, who must be trusted by both parties, acts as a trust substitute and facilitates an equitable agreement.