What’s Wrong With Telephone Negotiation?
In contrast, mediation resulted in resolution 100% of the time in the studied cases. Yet, lawyers used mediation in only 2% of the cases.
Lack of Visual Information
You can’t share documents or other visuals over the phone. Even if all participants to the call are supposed to have the documents in their possession, you can’t be positive they are actually looking at it, even if they say they are, or if it’s the right one.
Getting Negotiators to Pay Attention
Listening is hard work. When negotiators use the phone, they may not be focused. There could be active interference, e.g., flashing lights and text messages on the phone, incoming emails, other notifications from multiple devices, or co-workers coming by. Even without those distractions, people’s attention may drift.
Technology Can Get In the Way
What about using Facetime, WhatsApp, Skype or another video call utility? Theoretically, this could overcome some of the deficits of voice-only negotiation. On the other hand, have you seen the hilarious Tripp & Tyler video about video conference calls? Even when the technology is working perfectly, body language can be difficult to interpret or convey through video.
Video conferencing might be helpful during mediation if, for example, the adjuster or injured worker is in another state and unable to travel to the mediation, assuming the principal negotiators are physically present.
What About Meeting At The Board?
Meeting at the board could resolve some of these issues if the parties come with adequate authority, fully prepared, with all relevant information available to them, and with no time pressures.
How often does that happen?