We learn to negotiate from birth through our experiences, education, and from the people around us. The reactions of others reinforce our predominant negotiating behavior, we learn based on what we find works with others. We also learn that different approaches work on different people and, as a result, we develop additional approaches.
In business and professional negotiations, some people negotiate quickly and take risks; others take their time and try to avoid risk. Some buyers are very loyal, others will automatically shop around. Some negotiators can be quite intimidating – to the point of being rude; others are quite passive and easily manipulated. This makes negotiating a real challenge. To negotiate with all these different types, we need to be able to adapt our behavior and be flexible in our approach.
Therefore, knowing the personality type of the person you are negotiating with can give you the edge in negotiating. We will explore four types of personalities, Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance that respond to negotiation strategy somewhat differently.
Negotiation style – Each negotiating situation deserves its unique style. One does not negotiate the same way with his wife as he would a business adversary, boss, or even the children. There are differing power bases and interests to be considered and respected. A negotiator is most effective when able to deploy a complimentary negotiating style to each situation.
Dominance – Dominance is the style of directness, assertiveness and control. These are extroverted people who need to direct traffic, need constant challenges and love to win. They believe that winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. These people are direct and oriented toward the bottom line. They typically are win/lose style negotiators, but won’t usually acknowledge it.
Build respect to avoid conflict
Focus on facts and ideas rather than the people
Have evidence to support your argument
Be quick, focused, and to the point
Ask ‘what’, not ‘how’
Talk about how problems will hinder accomplishments
Show them how they can succeed
Influence – These people love to talk and interact. They are personable, want to be liked and make quick, impulsive decisions. They usually have a great sense of humor and are good team players. Third-party endorsements work best with this type of person. Negotiations are best done over lunch, at a sporting event or in a social setting. Don’t bother them with the bottom line or facts and figures. Keep negotiations good-natured and light-hearted.
Be social and friendly with them, building the relationship
Listen to them talk about their ideas
Help them find ways to translate the talk into useful action
Don’t spend too much time on the details
Motivate them to follow through to complete tasks
Recognize their accomplishments
Steadiness – Keeping the peace and avoiding conflict is most important to these people. People who have a high level of steadiness take a measured, steady approach to life. They are amiable, patient and relaxed. They are usually slow to make a decision and will look for a long-term relationship. The best negotiation approach here is to show genuine interest in them personally. Listen, be patient and take your time. Don’t do hard sells! Steady personalities need to know you will deliver on what you promise. These people have a tendency to ‘give the store away’. Help them achieve a win/win result and you will have a loyal, long-term customer.
Be genuinely interested in them as a person
Create a human working environment for them
Give them time to adjust to change
Clearly define goals for them and provide on-going support
Recognize and appreciate their achievements
Avoid hurry and pressure
Present new ideas carefully
Compliance – These are the perfectionists of the world. They are cautious, detailed, accurate and analytical with high standards. They want proof, facts, data and more data. Follow the rules with these people and avoid too much creativity. Be prepared with data and be direct with that data.
To be successful with this type of person, it’s important for you to be organized and provide lots of detail. Get to the point and avoid small talk. They will tend to get stuck on a single point (usually price) and will want to win on that one issue only. Individuals with high levels of Compliance dislike pressure and will tend to adopt an evasive style when confronted with difficult circumstances.
Warn them in time and generally avoid surprises
Be prepared. Don’t ad-lib with them if you can
Be logical, accurate and use clear data
Show how things fit into the bigger picture
Be specific in disagreement and focus on the facts
Be patient, persistent and diplomatic
You will find that the ability to recognize and understand different personality styles gives you the advantage of being able to anticipate the direction of the conversation and therefore prepare fully for the interaction. The ability to negotiate is a critical professional skill to master – especially for advanced negotiations such as mergers and acquisitions, industrial relations, labor negotiations and high value contracts.
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