Take Advantage of The Collaboration Effect – with Relationships

Two characters facing each other coming out of their computer screens and shaking hands

The Collaboration Effect TM has four elements. These four elements are to build connecting relationships, actively listen, judiciously educate and negotiating closure. These four elements may be intertwined. The key is to address all four areas in roughly the order presented, but making sure to address all four elements for a more successful negotiation. The focus of this commentary is on relationships.

Underlying Interests


The key to a successful negotiation is to understand underlying interests. In order to know what the underlying interests are, it is necessary to build high quality connecting relationships, actively listen and then to judiciously educate leading to closure with an agreement.


Understanding underlying hidden interests are often the game changer


according to this commentary from the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation.

Connecting Relationships


Research has shown that even five minutes of small talk on the phone with the other party about anything that connects prior to a negotiation has better results in a negotiation.


The small talk should be just that. It should have nothing to do with the negotiation.


The similar commentary may psychological, political, personal, the weather or anything else. The key is to find a way to connect with the other party. The more you know about the other party the greater the likelihood you can find a way to connect.

What should small talk cover?

Networking with associates


Start by reaching out to your own network. Who has worked with the other negotiation person or people? What do we know about them? Learn all you can. What are their likes and dislikes? What might be a common area to connect? Your network may offer you some ideas for small talk.

Social media


Explore social media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for business interests.


Consider social networks, discussion forums, blogs, publishing networks and interest-based networks. Think of these as relationship networks.


Media sharing networks such as Instagram, snap chat, and YouTube may provide additional insights. Discussion forums such as reddit, Quora or Digg may provide some clues. There are many more. These are just some ideas for consideration.

The bottom line is to find topics where you can relate to one another to develop the connecting relationship. In summary “schmooze” in a friendly manner to gain a positive connection

Actively listening


Open ended questions are the key to active listening. By paraphrasing, summarizing, asking open ended questions and empathizing with the other party it is possible to build trust.


The best negotiators are well known for using this technique.


 Although there is a focus on business metrics in a business negotiation, having excellent soft skills (the critical skills) are what can make or break many negotiations. By focusing on questions such as:

  • What would you like to have happen?
  • What concerns do you have?
  • Are there any other problems or concerns?
  • What will it take for us to work together?
  • it many be possible to uncover hidden interests by actively listen to the answers, summarizing in your own words what you believe was said and empathizing with the other party.
  • Why are we doing this?




The underlying reason for building connecting relationships is to develop trust. If you can develop trust your negotiation may just soar. The acronym SOAR stands for the four pillars of trust.


The four pillars of trust are being straightforward, open, accepting and responsible.





Straightforward means be open and honest with the other party. Not everyone is, but if you are, you can often build trust with those that may be unscrupulous. They will see you as someone they want to work with too.


Don’t you want to work with trustworthy partners?


Aren’t you better off walking away from those that you cannot trust? Be straightforward with the other party and see how they respond to you. This may very well give you a clue of who you want to work with going forward.



Being open means being as transparent as you can be. Think of this morally, ethically and legally.


Share what you can and what makes sense.


Be open to your constraints. Ask them to reciprocate in kind. It has been demonstrated in research that we tend to react as to how we have been treated. Test this out with the other party. Offer insights to show that you are being transparent and see how the other side responds. Be aware that being transparent can be used against you as well.



Be hard on the problem and soft on the people. Often in a negotiation there is a tendency to think binary with our side being right and the other side being wrong. We tend to demonize the other party. It is easier to think this way than it is to think the world is more complex with many shades of gray. By focusing on the problem and defining it clearly from the beginning, it is possible to work the problem together without degrading into the personalities of the people involved.



Be responsible. Do what you say you are going to do.


Always under promise and over deliver.


If you think you can respond in two weeks, indicate that you may need three weeks so that you come in on time or early. Think of a plumber that says the job can be done in two days. Then the plumber comes in at the end of the first day and says the job is finished. Doesn’t that make you feel good. On the other hand, say the plumber comes in after starting and says it will take three days. How does that make you feel? Knowing this, under promise and overdeliver.

Summary of trust


Be straightforward, open, accepting and responsible. If you do this and apologize for when you slip up (after all we are all human and we do slip up), you will go a long way towards establishing trust.

Some thoughts on leadership


Leaders in a negotiation set the tone. Leaders need to foster good two way communication with the team and how the team will interact with the other party.


The leader needs to be there for the team.


The leader has the back of everyone on the team. The leader needs to practice the SOAR acronym on trust from above.

The leader needs to respect everyone on the team.


The leader listens to all and explains why relative to decisions whenever possible.


 In that way if a crisis ever comes up in the negotiation, and a decision has to be made quickly without explaining why, team members will later understand why the decision had to be made without being consulted as part of the team.



These are some thoughts on apply The Collaboration Effect based on neuroscience with an emphasis on connecting relationships. By taking an active role in and emphasizing each of the four elements it may be possible to apply The Collaboration Effect to any negotiation and quite possibly result in a better result.

Would you like some assistance with your team?


Mike Gregory is an expert on conflict resolution and team building, facilitating teams through transition. He focuses on conflict resolution business to business, business to government (IRS)and within businesses. Mike is an international speaker and he has written 11 books including Business Valuations and the IRS: Five Books in One, The Servant Manager and Peaceful Resolutions. Mike may be contacted directly at mg@mikegreg.com and at (651) 633-5311. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, NSA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at mg@mikegreg.com and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]