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Is Virtual Negotiation Harder?

  • 15th Jul'21

“Maintain Social Distancing” has been the slogan of the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, individuals and organizations alike have taken up remote work more and more. Some people now look forward to virtual meetings and events over in-person experiences and wonder if virtual negotiations are harder comparatively?

According to Professor Leigh Thompson of Northwestern University, virtual negotiation indeed is tougher than in-person negotiation. On a new Harvard Business Review Podcast, she says, “It’s harder because often we just use at the virtual table what has worked in person, then we kind of scratch our heads and wonder why things didn’t quite go the way they would have had [the negotiation] been face to face.”


Negotiation in Remote World is Different

If you pay attention to Professor Thompson’s words, it is pretty clear why virtual negotiation is more challenging than face-to-face negotiation. For a long time, we were used to in-person talks. As a result, we became much more aware of conducting face-to-face negotiations adequately. It was like following a set template to ace online negotiations.

However, when it comes to virtual negotiations, things are not the same. The dynamics at play are entirely different when it comes to virtual talks. Therefore, you simply cannot run through the methods of in-person negotiation in a virtual negotiation and expect a similar outcome.


Understand the Dynamics of Virtual Negotiations

The best way to deal with a virtual negotiation is to identify that it’s different from an in-person negotiation. Then you must understand the probable dynamics that can affect the course of any virtual negotiation. The dynamics can be anything from where you are following up a meeting to how you are presenting yourself online. 

Essentially, virtual negotiations require different kinds of tactics and methods of communication. And until you learn about the aspects involved in this art of negotiation, it will remain more challenging than traditional face-to-face negotiations.


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