C-19 negotiations – ENGAGE but not via email

Part 3 Negotiating during C-19 – ENGAGE but not via email

This is an adapted transcript from a series of videos I created to help people with practical advice to negotiate during the challenging times we’re currently facing due to COVID-19. – The VLOG can be viewed on LinkedIn HERE




Let’s focus on how do we actually engage in the conversation with someone that we are negotiating with. So regardless of the times that we’re in, I always implore people not to negotiate by email.


There’s something about writing it down that just lacks any emotional attachment to it. Particularly when people responding in the negative – it’s very easy for people to just write out an email and send it through without thinking about how that will be received.


Whereas if we’re talking there’s no way you can do that, because I’m actually looking at you. For example, if I’m saying to you, “Hey, I’m really struggling right now, my situation is this, I want to talk to you about a solution that we can come to it together”. Then automatically, you’re able to read that person’s face. They might not give you very much, they might give you a lot – depending on how prepared they are for the discussion, or how well or poorly they are doing right now.


They may be struggling a great deal too. But by opening up the discussion you become a unit, you become to a team that’s working on solution together.


To be clear, I’m not talking about not documenting the discussion. Absolutely. We need to document the outcome, because we don’t want it to be ambiguous at the end.


Avoiding the conversation

If somebody says, “Oh, I can’t talk to you right now, just send it in an email”, then don’t send it an email with your position.


Only send an email that says, “Please let me know a time that works for you to set up a Zoom/Skype/etc chat? Because I’d like to have this conversation together.”


Yes, we are negotiating, however, what we’re doing is having a conversation about:

  • This is the situation I’m in
  • What’s the situation you’re in?
  • And how does that come together?
  • Can we come up with a solution that works for both of us?
  • And what’s fair and what’s reasonable in this insane time that we’re living in? Because what was fair and reasonable two weeks ago is absolutely not the same today.


Then, so that you can put one foot in front of the other, be clear about what’s going to happen next.

Additional work and subsequent discussion

One thing to also think about is, that person may not be able to answer you straight away. This might cause you some anxiety or some tension, so go into the discussion thinking Okay, I’m here to have a discussion about ‘this’. But, say to the person,

  • “I appreciate that you may not have had time to think about what the solution might be. So, what I would like to do is just talk about it together, and then give you some time to go away and think that through. Perhaps we can have a conversation in the next day, two days, or whenever the timeframe will allow for it.”


So, then it’s not a rush. Everybody is doing one thing next. That way you can get on to your list of other things, focussed on doing just one thing next.


For me, in the beginning of lock down I found one of the biggest challenges was knowing which ‘one thing’ can I could do next. I was running a bit helter skelter, but then I just asked myself what’s the one thing I can do. Then every time I stopped doing one thing, and put that to one side, then I moved on to the next thing.


Thinking about the whole picture can cause a lot of anxiety as there’s so many things we could do. But which one do we do next? So narrow your focus, make sure that you’re not negotiating by email if at all possible and then just reaffirm what’s going to happen next so there’s limited ambiguity and move on to doing the next one thing.



Removing email from the negotiation process and narrowing your focus, will give you greater confidence, and help keep you calm when stepping into a negotiation.


Good luck!


About Sam Trattles – Sam has built a career around negotiation – through marketing, brand, and sponsorship roles over 20 years. She builds capability and confidence in your people by creating strategies that deliver positive business results. Unlocking the value in all your deals. Sam is a straight shooter, she is practical and likes to share her knowledge to help others learn to love negotiating (or to at least, not to hate it). Because it’s worth a great deal.

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