During contract negotiations, I have seen many parties place their deal points in writing and send them via e-mail to the other side. Sometimes, this results in back-and-forths where the parties “negotiate by document,” with little progress toward resolving business issues.
While placing deal points in writing may be appropriate at times, parties should not forget the importance of face-to-face, or even telephone-based, discussions. Too often deals drag on — or don’t occur at all — simply because the parties do not meet to resolve issues. The reasons can be many: competing time demands mean little time for meetings; the parties may be in different locations, time zones, or even countries; or even the hope to avoid confrontation.
Face-to-face interactions rule the day. Simply put, it is easier to take unreasonable positions or to simply reject the other party’s position when your thoughts are typed into an e-mail or voiced during a conference call. When you sit with the other side and discuss each party’s real concerns on the open issues, there is a greater likelihood of resolution. Proposals and counterproposals are considered and responded to in real time rather than over several days or even weeks through e-mails and phone calls. This real-time interaction lends itself to frank discussion and compromise on the real issues.