The Exchange Stage provides the best opportunity to get to know the other side. Why is this an ideal time? Because the period of initial engagement, or the "warm-up," comes at a time when you are well armed with relevant information from Preparation, and before the high-pressure tactics so common in Bargaining.
Some people consider this "warm-up" period trivial. Don't make that mistake. Don't miss the prime opportunity to engage at a time when defenses are down and emotions are usually on an even keel. How much effort and time you put into the "warm-up" is relative to the situation.
Of course there is not always time to build rapport the way you would like. The real world is full of unexpected events – the price of oil just went up and stockpiles need to be unloaded quickly; the boss issued a new imperative, etc. The amount of effort and time you spend on rapport building is relative to the conditions under which you are operating.
Exchange is your courtship. Here you:
- Don't overlook the importance of "small talk" (casual conversation), a natural feature in some countries; overlooked or devalued in others
- Introduce teams
- Complete your preparation with "social homework"
- Build a new relationship on trust; or
- Acknowledge an existing relationship and all the good that has come out of it; or
- Re-establish and renew an old relationship with the promise of a new era; or
- Repair a damaged relationship or a past violation of trust (the most challenging and time).
- Don't forget: They are making the same assessments of you.