Asherman Associates new quarterly update and newsletter



Asherman Transition


Dear Friends and Colleagues,

After thirty five years of conducting workshops, Sandy and I are finally calling it a day and hanging up our magic markers.

Beginning with 2014 we will no longer personally be conducting our Successful Negotiator Workshop.

Our longtime friend and associate, Barry Sagotsky, will be taking over the workshop portion of our business.

In addition to his consulting practice, Barry has a long history in the pharmaceutical industry, having worked in the training and development side for both Janssen and Schering- Plough. Barry is very familiar and comfortable with our materials, having conducted The Successful Negotiator program for several of our clients. He has also worked closely with us to create our program on Managing the Sponsor-CRO relationship.

Barry can be reached through our office or at 609.924.7791, or by e-mail at


We will continue to publish our newsletter, be available for speeches and presentations and to consult on critical negotiations. Our presentations will focus on:

  • Becoming a Successful Negotiator
  • The Importance of Boundary Role Management for the Regulatory Professional
  • Culture and Language and their Impact on Team Effectiveness

Thank you for your many years of support and interest in our programs. It has been a privilege working with you, and we look forward to a continued relationship.

Best regards,

Sandy and Ira




The Power of Climate Setting
By Joelle Miller
Research Associate, Asherman Associates Inc.

For years, Sandy and Ira have highlighted the importance of climate setting, an informal period of small talk that occurs before the onset of the negotiation. This period, they argue is much more than friendly banter; rather, it is a step that establishes initial trust and sets the tone for the entire negotiation. While climate setting clearly is an important step, they have had no hard data confirming its significance. However, a collection of three studies now offers compelling evidence that climate setting is not only important, but that it provides several importaant advantages.

The Research

Studies were carried out at several leading universities. The researchers, referring to climate setting as either “schmoozing” or “small talk,” hypothesized that adding some kind of pre-negotiation personal conversation would improve negotiated outcomes. Participants were either law or business school students, and were paired with counterparts from different universities. All participants were given instructions and materials to complete the negotiations exclusively via email. Half the pairs, given additional instructions to schmooze/engage in small talk prior to the negotiation. In the first study, participants schmoozed through a email exchange; in the latter two studies, participants engaged in a brief telephone conversation, which lasted no longer than five to ten minutes.

The Results

In all three instances, the schmoozing/small talk had a profoundly positive impact on the subsequent negotiation. The findings from this intervention include:

  • Participants who engaged in climate setting in every study were more likely to reach a negotiated outcome. In fact, in the third study, only 9% of the “Small Talk” pairs failed to reach an agreement, whereas 40% of the “No Small Talk” pairs failed, meaning schmoozing/small talk made agreement four times more likely!
  • Schmoozers and small Talkers reported feeling higher levels of trust, compared to the Non-Schmoozers/Non-Small Talkers. Higher levels of trust yielded greater information-sharing regarding their needs and preferences. As a result, agreements incorporated far more integrative possibilities.
  • The Schmoozers/Small Talkers all had better feedback regarding their negotiating counterparts than did the Non-Schmoozers/Non-Small Talkers and had better ratings for the working relationship.

Schmooze and Rapport Will Follow

Researchers linked these impressive results to a common theme – rapport. With a bit of common sense and personal experience, it is easy to see that when people like each other they work better together. After the schmooze or small talk intervention, participants all reported feeling higher levels of rapport with their counterparts. How did such a brief exchange lead to these higher levels of rapport? It’s simple: Rapport grows out of Self-Disclosure.

The brief phone and email conversations were sufficient to spark an initial level of rapport, and created opportunities to further ignite this rapport throughout the negotiation. Transcripts show that the Schmoozers/Small Talkers continued to offer personal details throughout the course of the negotiation and refer back to such details, strengthening rapport. Better rapport helped them to navigate through the natural misunderstandings that arose through the negotiation, trouble-shoot ? through seemingly conflicted interests to achieve integrative solutions and leave the negotiators feeling better about the agreement as well as their counterparts. In fact, climate Setters reported that they found their counterparts to be cooperative, positive, open and more competent.


Our lives are naturally complex and hectic, so it is easy to see why so many people skip the small talk and jump straight into the negotiation. The onset of Internet technology has put powerful tools at our fingertips. And although we are able to accomplish so much more with these technological advances, the expectations we place on ourselves have grown exponentially, resulting in an ironic conundrum. While we have these timesaving devices, it appears that we are more pressed for time now than ever before.

So, of course, I’m not going to bother telling my negotiating counterpart the delightful story of my most recent vacation or ask about hers, or discuss how bad the weather has been or even that I have been too busy to see the latest movies. Such frivolities seem out of context for any negotiation. However, these are things that are truly crucial – especially if a negotiation is taking place through email. These are the things that make me more than an email address to the other person, more than an opponent in a win/lose game. This is what makes me an identifiable human being that transforms me into a person to whom my counterpart can relate and trust. Most importantly, this is what allows us to build the special bond that facilitates and empowers all social exchanges, that of rapport. The only question that remains is how we achieve it.


We are looking for your experiences. What techniques have you utilized to achieve climate setting and build rapport during e-mail negotiations or in those negotiations where you and the other party have not previously met? Please share your stories by emailing us at

This newsletter is drawn from following works: Long and Short Routes to Success in Electronically Mediated Negotiations: Group Affiliations and Good Vibrations by Don A. Moore, Terri R. Kurtzberg, Leigh L. Thompson and Michael W. Morris; Schmooze or Lose: Social Friction and Lubrication in E-Mail Negotiations by Michael Morris, Janice Nadler, Terri R. Kurtzberg and Leigh L. Thompson; and Rapport in Legal Negotiation: How Small Talk Can Facilitate E-mail Dealmaking by Janice Nadler.

Joelle Miller Keoghan has worked internationally contributing to multiple projects rooted in the philosophy of Conflict Transformation. She received her Master’s Degree in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University. She is currently a free lance consultant and Research Associate for Asherman Associates

Copyright © 2014 Asherman Associates, Inc., All rights reserved.

Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp