Hillary Anger of Washington University in St. Louis, in the Negotiation Newsletter, asks us to imagine that we have had some negative experiences in negotiations, and began to worry that “we simply don’t have the right personality to be a great negotiator.” The reasons that we have those feelings is that the other party always seems to always get the upper hand, and we are unable to secure a favorable deal.
As is the case in any endeavor, some of us have developed superior skills to others. However, studies suggest that certain individuals tend to have repeated success in various negotiation situations. It would be difficult to change our basic personality style because it is not simply a matter of will power.
Here are three suggested strategies to make the most of your personality in negotiation:
- Adaptation – There is no need to change your entire personality just to become a better negotiator. But, you can train yourself to draw from certain strategies depending on the situation. The research suggests that negotiation success is associated with certain personal factors that are among the easiest to change. One of the most important changes to consider is that negotiation skills can be mastered and improved with practice and experiential-based negotiation training.
Additional traits that seem to be present in successful negotiators are the ability to take the initiative without being overly aggressive and the ability to remain comfortable throughout the process. Another technique or mindset is to adopt the attitude that you are advocating on behalf of the interests of team members or family members. This will advance your nurturing instincts in the service of getting a successful deal.
- Situation Suitability – Psychologists emphasize that making the most of your personality is a matter of seeking out the situations that suit you best. In other words, “if you don’t have a poker face, don’t play poker.” Do not be reluctant to ask a colleague or mentor to assist and second you during the more difficult aspects of a negotiation.
One of the overarching factors to consider is the development of longer-term working relationships with those you may have to negotiate with in the future. This will reduce the tension and create the foundation for a context that is more relational than transaction. An ancillary benefit is that you may be able to pursue alternatives that allow you to forego negotiations altogether.
- Know Your Numbers – Most of us don’t like or relish conflict, but you must be prepared to prevent being exploited. No one ever says they wish they had been less prepared for a negotiation. In fact, preparation builds your confidence and increases your opportunities for successful negotiations.
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