Never underestimate the value of personal information and common ground when negotiating online, on the phone or face-to-face.

In a series of studies carried out between several groups of MBA students from well-known business schools, half were told “time is money, get straight down to business.” These groups came to agreements 55% of the time.

The other groups were told to first exchange some personal information and look for common ground and then get down to business. In these groups 90% came to successful agreements.

This is human nature folks. When I begin a conference call from my farm and I’m asked how I am, I might say something like, “Actually I’m on my farm right now and I can see the horses wandering up from the valley,” as long as it’s true. I can hear the people sigh on the other end as we relax and come closer. We’ve made a fast, memorable human connection in 5 seconds.

Now we can get down to business.