Negotiation has been defined variously as the process through which two or more parties communicate with the aim of coming to a consensus over a particular issue (Qin 2009). Negotiation can be understood and defined differently depending on the context in which it is used. For instance in business, negotiation is some form of haggling with the aim of arriving at a price at which both the seller and the buyer are willing to accept. In contexts involving disagreements, negotiation is a form of conflict resolution. Whichever the description or the context, however, the most common feature about negotiation is that it involves more than one party and that it seeks a point of agreement for all parties. Negotiation may take various forms. For instance, it may take the form of a face to face conversation, as well as an online communication. Communicating through the internet is referred to as e-negotiation. The ‘e’ has been interpreted differently by people with some arguing that it stands for Enhanced and others claiming that it means Electronic. This paper seeks to compare e-negotiations to face to face communications in the context of the live8 conversation.
In the contemporary world, virtually everyone is communicating through the internet. This may take the form of using emails, social media, live chats and such like applications. On the other hand, face to face communication is as old as mankind. Comparing these two is so much practical since they are both being used to effect communication in the world today. E-negotiation has been said to be better than face to face communication as it facilitates communication globally (Osborne 2012). A person in the United States of America can effectively communicate with a person in Europe as seen in the case of Live8.org. The two parties are communicating across the miles.
Unlike face to face communication, the e-negotiation cannot employ the use of facial expressions and other forms of body language. At this point, it is worth noting that body language enhances better understanding of the message as it forms part of the feedback (Bidgoli 2004). Through the e-negotiation, the unspoken part of the feedback is not efficiently communicated to the sender of the message. Related to this point is the point of immediate feedback. As observed from the negotiation between the live8 manager and Angela the domain owner, feedback is not immediate. For this reason, we can conclude that e-negotiations are not efficient for urgent situations that require an urgent solution. It is also noteworthy that for a case where the satisfaction of either party depends on the timing, one party can use what is referred to as delay tactics to gain advantage over the other party.
One major area where the e-negotiations beat the face to face type of negotiation is where it comes to future references. It can be noted from the e-mail negotiation in this case study that the mails sent and received make up some kind if a continuous thread. This acts as a record for future reference. Such online threads can be used as records for evidence in case of any future disputes (Haig 2001). Additionally, either party can refer to the older texts in giving their reply. This is a major undoing of the face to face negotiations. It is then justifiable to argue that face to face negotiations do not form a basis for a legally valid contract.
It is rather apparent that from the case of Live8 email conversation that e-negotiations give the parties involved more time to weigh the options before giving their opinion. The fact that the parties are not so prompt in replying indicates that they are taking the time to think over the suggestions of the other party. It is therefore worth concluding that face to face negotiations are not the best when the issue requires one to think over and over again over what they should go by. Similarly, e-negotiations do not allow for the possibility of emotionally charged reactions (Monczka 2010). This is characteristic of the face to face negotiations. The parties can employ emotions such as anger and hatred in the conversation. Such emotional responses distort the negotiations and may end up in a deadlock. Such stalemates interfere with the effectiveness of the negotiation process.
In conclusion, it is vital to mention that in comparing the two forms of negotiation, both the merits and the demerits of each negotiation method are evident. For instance, it is rather obvious that e-negotiations are suitable when the parties involved are extraordinarily far apart. Here, the oral face to face types of negotiations are not effective. On the other hand, face to face negotiations are better than the e-negotiations as far as immediate feedback, body language and facial expressions are concerned. A lot may be said about this two forms of negotiations but in the current world where e-commerce is fast taking root, both of them are equally indispensable.
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