Negotiation in the Times of Social Distance

by Dr. Ronen Hoffman

Negotiation is a unique type of human interaction: it's based on strategies, tactics, bargaining skills, talent - and above all - on using intuition and paying full attention to small nuances and little details. These nuances are reflected by delicate aspects of behavior and personal interaction, such as gestures of body language, eye movements, tone of voice and facial expressions. Necessity to conduct on-line meetings creates a big challenge for negotiators, since many significant off-line nuances get lost when people negotiate from a distance.

5 tips for on-line negotiators

For on-line negotiators, here are few tips that can compensate for some of that loss:


Improve the preparation for the negotiation at all levels in order to minimize room for surprises.


Learn more in advance, before the actual on-line session starts, about your counterpart's personality, motivation and interests. Remember that only small portion of it will get exposed to you on-line, and that by negotiating from a distance you will always miss some relevant hints and indications.


Invest some time and energy in 'ice-breakers'. Remember that 'breaking the ice' is important for any constructive negotiation session, and that it's harder to do so from a distance. Therefore, it will not be a waste of time.


Avoid secrets as much as possible. Regardless what your counterpart tells you, remember that everything is on-record and that 'strangers' might attend at any given moment out of the zoom frame.


Finally, leverage advantages of the on-line platform. For example: don't hesitate to ask for a break when needed. It's much easier to take breaks on-line, when the sides don't need to physically leave the room of negotiation.

Let's hope that soon we will be able to resume face to face negotiations, as well as other kinds of significant interactions. Good luck in your on-line negotiation efforts!

Academician, a former member of Knesset and a social-educational entrepreneur. Founder of Camp Kimama. Former member of Israel’s Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee as well as the chairman of the sub-committee on Foreign Affairs and Public Diplomacy.
International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) Co-Founder. 

Ronen Hoffman


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