The Heart, Mind and Smartphone of the Negotiator

Negotiation via (the New) Email

Forget everything you think you know about negotiating, mediating and engaging with conflict via email. That's what I did.

Exactly three years ago, I finished work on a chapter for a negotiation textbook (Michael Benoliel’s Negotiation Excellence: Successful Deal Making). The chapter focused on negotiation via email, and described the challenges, pitfalls and benefits of working thought this medium.

The book’s success – for which I take absolutely no credit – was such that within less than two years since it came out, the editor decided to put out a second edition.  At the glacial pace of print-publishing and academia, this is equivalent to engaging the hyperdrive or banging things up to warp speed.

Sitting down for what I thought would be a simple job of updating the chapter, I was quickly reminded that there is no such thing as a simple update on modern communications. Click “refresh” on a webpage, and you may find the whole site has been redesigned by the time it reloads. That’s what I encountered, delving into the world of negotiating via email. Remember when we used to say “I’ll shoot you an email as soon as I get to the office?” The degree to which that sentence is anachronistic should be a clue as to just how much has changed over the past few years. Quite simply, our desktop and laptop –based approach to email is a thing of the past, given the proliferation of mobile communications tools – primarily, the smartphone. Think your email negotiations are the same as they used to be, now that you walk around with your inbox in your pocket? Think again. Think that they are not affected by the overarching design changes all the main email providers have made to their systems? Think again.

The outcome was an entirely new chapter, Negotiation via (the New) Email, which goes beyond the “traditional” literature on email negotiation by suggesting that mail can no longer be categorized as asynchronous communication, by applying communications and negotiation theory to smartphones,  and by trying to provide frameworks for understanding, and negotiating through, modes of email and email –like communication platforms that are likely to evolve over the next few years.

Check it out at, and let me know what you think!

Views: 166

Comment by Mat Beecher on November 12, 2013 at 10:01am

Considering the recent conversations at my work cursing the chat-like response time expectations of email replies, I can only imagine a similar expectation in negotiations. I think we've all felt it, but you put it into words when you declare email is no longer an asynchronous form of communication. I can only imagine the assumptions that may arise regarding expectations, privilege (i.e. smartphone and quality service) and the digital divide of which some still fall on the "wrong" side. I suppose technology have, have nots, and communication expectations must now be a part of the negotiation process in the early stages.

In truth, I'm responding to your post, not the article. As always, I look forward to reading your work. More to come.

Comment by Noam Ebner on November 13, 2013 at 2:56am

Thanks Mat. You bet - and as the media blur with one another, this chat-like expectation will increase. Check out (The hyperlink kinda gives it away!). I can't get my own mother to respond to complaints within an hour, even when I know my fax has gone through.


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