When we enter into a negotiation, we bring to the table our own particular style of negotiating with its associated negotiation styles and negotiating techniques. How the negotiation turns out may at least in some part be based on our style. What this means is that we need to make sure that we are both aware of what our negotiating style is and what other styles are available to us. Understanding your negotiating style is the key to setting negotiation goals that you can achieve.
What Is Your Negotiating Style?
How would you characterize your style of negotiation: are you competitive, collaborative, or compromising? When you enroll in a professional negotiation skills training course, you’re likely to find out your negotiating style when setting goals and revealing your negotiating personality. However, if you have trouble answering that question, you’re probably not alone. That’s because skilled negotiators typically take on all three of these styles during a negotiation:
- They listen closely and collaborate to create value.
- They compete for the biggest slice of the pie.
- They make compromises when necessary.
Putting labels on negotiation style can be a mistake in negotiation skills training. In the past when we have gone to negotiation training, we would generally be educated on the most common negotiation styles, debate their merits, and then be urged to build our negotiation skills so that we could draw on various styles as a negotiation unfolds. However, things have changed. Now we are introduced first to the negotiating skills that support the various negotiation styles rather than debating the effectiveness of these styles.
Rather than beginning by teaching negotiation students about various styles, negotiation instructors should instead encourage them to cultivate five specific skills:
- Social skills, or intuition
Picking The Right Negotiating Style For Your Negotiation
It turns out that adult professionals learn better by talking first about experiences and skills, and then focusing on framework or style selection. Labeling negotiating styles – such as integrative, distributive, problem-solving, conciliatory, and so on – can help us learn general differences in how people view negotiations and behave during them. Labels also help people who are researching how we negotiate to organize their thoughts around a shared language.
On the downside, however, labeling negotiation styles can be confusing in negotiation skills training. A student who learns that an integrative (or value-creating or collaborative) negotiating style is superior to a distributive (or value-claiming or competitive) negotiating style may struggle to understanding why both value creation and value-claiming behaviors are helpful in negotiation.
In addition, the labels that describe various negotiation styles don’t always map neatly onto the negotiation skills. A highly competitive negotiator may belie the stereotype of this style by having both a friendly demeanor and a strong sense of fairness. Moreover, many of the negotiation skills that are commonly taught in the classroom, such as things like researching criteria to back up fairness claims, can be used in both competitive situations and collaborative ones.
What All Of This Means For You
Every negotiator is different. We all have our own negotiating style. It turns out that what style we have can have an impact on our ability to reach an agreement during a principled negotiation. This means that we need to be able to become aware of just exactly what style of negotiating we are using. We also have to be able to change our style in order to meet the needs of the negotiation that we are involved in. What are the styles and how can we change ours?
Negotiators can take on any of three different negotiating styles during a negotiation. In the past, each of the different styles of negotiating was introduced and given a name. Students were urged to learn how to adopt the different styles. Now, a new approach is being used. Students are being taught the skills that support the styles instead of the styles themselves. Labeling the different styles allows people to discuss them. However, labeling can end up confusing students. The skills that are taught in training can be used in several different types of negotiating styles.
As negotiators we need to understand that every negotiation that we will be involved in will be different. This means that we need to be flexible and we need to willing to adjust our negotiating style to meet the current negotiation’s needs. Understanding what the different styles of negotiating are is a good first step. We also have to make sure that we have the skills that are needed to take on each of the different styles when needed. Picking and using the right negotiating style may be what it takes to allow us to reach the deal that we want with the other side.
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™
Question For You: Do you think that it would be wise to change negotiating styles during a negotiation?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Not every negotiation that we will find ourselves in will contain two sides that really want to negotiate. The other side, for a number of different reasons, may be reluctant to negotiate with you. When you find yourself in a situation like this you will have a real challenge on your hands. What you are going to have to do is find a way to create value in the negotiation that will make the other side want to reach a deal with you. The trick is knowing how to go about doing this.