How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
The Negotiation Room
The room in which you negotiate is visible during the negotiation, so becomes particularly important. Pick it carefully and go there beforehand to ensure it is effectively set up.
Also remember the experience they gain when walking to the room. A stroll through a clean and efficient-looking office sets a different mood from walking through a noisy and dirty factory.
Light has a clear effect on people. Daylight is best for keeping them awake and fresh. Windows on two sides of the room will dispel shadows, allowing you to use natural light only. In particularly sunny climes, too much sunlight can be a bad thing, and window blinds may be necessary.
Where light is electric, tungsten lighting gives a warmer glow than the cold of efficient fluorescent lights. Colored shading of lights also can be used to control the hue.
Light can be directed, for example with spotlights for direct lighting and uplighters and shades for indirect diffusion of light. Spots may be useful for working tables and diffuse light for the background.
The raw space in which you hold the negotiation can act to relax or press in on the negotiators. Generally, more space is better, although too much space can be agoraphobic or otherwise uncomfortable. Remember that many negotiations have elements of confidentiality about them and the room should thus feel private.
When there are several people in the negotiation and when they are sitting around a table, remember that they need space to get up and not be squashed as they find their place.
Space alone does not completely set the feel of the place and a room that is small and with lower ceilings can be either cosy or claustrophobic, depending on other factors such as light and décor.
Sometimes having a flipchart or whiteboard where ideas can be penned and impromptu presentations made can be useful. As appropriate, a computer, projector and screen may also be important tools to have at hand.
Sometimes even just empty space where people can stand, for example when having coffee, is a useful addition -- it is in these moments when they are relaxing when many are most susceptible to suggestion.
The colors of the walls have an effect on proceedings. White is cold and hard. Blues and greens are cool and natural. Reds and yellows are warm. Paintings and photographs on the wall create a more homely, relaxed environment.
Floors have a subtle effect, particularly in the amount of 'bounce' they give. Softer, thicker carpets are more relaxing. Hard tile floors jar the body and create echo when people speak (as do hard walls and ceilings). Wood floors are a nice compromise, giving the relaxation effect of natural materials.
Also remember the climate of a room. If it is hot and humid, people will become uncomfortable. This is usually undesirable, but sometime can be useful, for example if you want to keep the negotiation short!
Control of climate, for example through a HVAC (Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning) system can be useful. Remember to check and set this in plenty of time beforehand. In more primitive rooms, opening the window may be your only alternative.