Whenever the telephone rings, people have a hard time not picking it up. Then when on the phone, they start thinking of all of the other things they should be doing instead. Then coworkers are dropping off notes, making hand signals, and whispering. It can be distracting negotiating over the phone.

Telephone negotiations are not easy. Yet, there are some good reasons to consider negotiating over the telephone.

The telephone is great for capturing the attention of people who might otherwise be hard to reach. Just like you, most people find it hard not to pick up a ringing phone. Once the phone has been answered, it is hard to hang it up.

The telephone can help you say “no” more easily and sound resolute. The telephone can minimize status differences and help you sound unconcerned.

With the telephone you can limit information. You can talk and not listen or you can listen and not talk. It doesn’t seem quite as rude to interrupt on the phone, so it helps re-affirm concerns.

The key to telephone negotiations is to be the better prepared. Practice the phone call and dry run the conversation before you call. Make a checklist of the issues you want to cover and the “what” and “how” questions you want to ask.

Finally, always have an array of ready excuses available to help get off the phone if the negotiation is getting off track.

Telephone negotiations can work. You just need to do your work before the call. Get prepared. Have plenty of room to spread out documents. Have highlighters ready. Limit distractions. Keep notes. What we measure we treasure, and nothing uncovers buried treasure faster, than effective negotiation tactics.

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