Tips for Establishing the Right Tone
- Make sure that refreshments will be available. Never underestimate the value of “breaking bread” to establish a working relationship.
- Don’t overlook the importance of small talk at the beginning – it helps make everyone feel less defensive, and more cooperative and communicative.
- Even in a zero-sum negotiation, small talk helps you get to know the other side better and it makes you better able to judge when the other negotiator is being truthful.
- Take your cue from what the small talk reveals about the other negotiator’s style and manner.
- If the other side is more formal, don’t speak too casually – they may interpret this as a lack of seriousness on your part.
- If the other side is decidedly informal, speak in a more casual way, perhaps using reference to a current event with which they are familiar.