ESTABLISHING RAPPORT AND TONE WHILE NEGOTIATING

October 4, 2012

When impatient individuals commence bargaining interactions, they tend to move quickly into the information exchange with minimal preliminary discussions with the other side. They fail to appreciate how important it is to use the Preliminary Stage to establish some rapport with the person on the other side and to create positive negotiating environments. As a relatively impatient culture, Americans tend to say hello and move directly toward the substantive discussions.

When bargaining parties take the time to establish some rapport and develop personal relationships, they tend to behave more cooperatively and enhance the likelihood they will achieve mutual agreements. They should look for common interests, since a preliminary focus on such topics helps to establish beneficial relationships. They may talk about where they went to school, the weather, sports, music, or other non-controversial subjects. They should also try to get on a first name basis, because it is more difficult to be rude to John or Mary than it is to Mr. Jones or Ms. Smith.

It is also helpful to create positive negotiating environments. Studies have demonstrated that when individuals negotiate in positive settings, they behave more cooperatively, reach more agreements, and achieve more efficient terms than persons who interact in negative environments. It is thus helpful for persons commencing bargaining interactions to take the time to establish positive environments. When they feel a tension in the air, bargainers should extend their preliminary discussions until they are able to modify the circumstances in a positive direction.