People have different communication styles. Individuals bring sets of experiences, skills, and tools that affect the way they interact with others, both at home and in the workplace. Individual communication styles also translate into how they negotiate. From these patterns of communication, five distinct negotiation styles have emerged: competing, collaborating, compromising, accommodating, and avoiding.
Negotiators often fall into one or more of these five styles whether they are trying to reach an agreement or resolve a conflict with multiple parties. Master negotiators know how to use their primary negotiation style to their advantage and when it’s beneficial to introduce the others. Read on to learn about the common characteristics of the five negotiation styles, their strengths, and their weaknesses.
Negotiation Style: Compete
A competitive negotiation style follows the model of “I win, you lose.” Competitive negotiators tend to do whatever it takes to reach their desired agreement – even when it comes at the expense of another person or entity. They are results-oriented and focused on achieving short-term goals quickly. Their desire for success motivates them, though the process of negotiation can blind them to potentially harmful impacts.
Competitive negotiators use all tools possible to boost their negotiation success, including:
- Their position within a company structure
- Their personality and humor
- Their economic prowess
- Their company’s strength and size
- Their brand’s visibility and influence
A competitive negotiation style is beneficial when you need to reach a short-term agreement quickly. If the terms of an agreement are critical and must be complied with, a competitive negotiator will be your secret weapon. If the second negotiator is also competitive, having another competitive negotiator on your team will be able to counter-balance their aggression.
Competitive negotiators work best in a highly competitive industry or for once-off sales, such as selling a home or a car. However, for negotiations with another highly competitive body, it is best to blend negotiation styles to avoid gridlock between two competitive negotiators.
These types of negotiators may focus more on winning than reaching a mutually beneficial agreement with the other party. Business relationships might break, and a company’s reputation may tarnish if a negotiation style is too competitive and crosses the line into bullying.
If you are a competitive negotiator, make sure to blend your style with a bit of accommodation or collaboration. Invite a partner to balance out your natural competitive streak. Business is as much about building strong relationships as it is about closing deals!
Negotiation Style: Collaborate
In contrast, a collaborative negotiation style follows the “I win, you win” model. Collaborative negotiators focus on making sure all parties have their needs met in an agreement. They value strengthening, establishing, and building relationships without compromising their company’s best interests.
Collaborative negotiators often evolve into this negotiation style from another. As time goes on and a negotiator gains confidence in reaching agreements, they become more comfortable advocating for their needs. They also become skilled in finding a mutually beneficial balance between their needs and the other party’s.
Individuals with a collaborative negotiation style are willing to invest time in finding innovative solutions and building business partnerships with other organizations. Other negotiation styles are often too impatient to invest this time, but collaborative negotiators are confident that they will benefit in the end.
A collaborative negotiation style is effective in most business negotiations. Collaborating with competitive negotiators is something to be wary of, however; since this negotiation style focuses on winning the most for their company, they might not be interested in developing a collaborative relationship. As a result, the more collaborative company can lose out – so be careful and always keep track of the agreement’s value.
Negotiation Style: Compromise
Many students of negotiation styles confuse the collaborative style with the compromising one. Unlike the “win-win” collaborative style, the compromising negotiation style follows a “I win/lose some, you win/lose some” model. When reaching the terms of the agreement, compromisers often relinquish some terms in favor of gaining others.
For example, if two governments are trying to reach a trade agreement, a compromiser might give the other government greater access to their country’s dairy market to gain protections for digital media trade. Simply put, a compromising negotiation style is a form of bargaining. Compromisers split the agreement’s value between the two parties versus finding a solution so that everyone benefits from an agreement’s full value. A competitive negotiator can easily take advantage of a compromising negotiator.
A compromising negotiation style is most useful in situations where the opposite party is trustworthy, and the agreement is under a tight deadline. However, compromising will cause your company to lose out on collaborative partnerships and innovative solutions.
Negotiation Style: Avoid
An avoiding negotiation style follows a “I lose, you lose” model. People who identify with the avoiding negotiation style highly dislike conflict and tend to talk in vague terms about the issue at hand rather than the issue itself. If an agreement is reached and an avoiding negotiator dislikes the outcome, they may try to take revenge on the opposite party before the party even knows that they were unhappy with the agreement.
Since avoiders dislike conflict and struggle with direct communication, they come off as passive-aggressive. This can cause rifts in interpersonal business relationships. Avoidance is a typical reaction when a negotiator is pitted against someone who is highly competitive. Avoiding negotiation styles work best in situations where the negotiation concerns a matter that is trivial to both parties. In conflict resolution, avoiding negotiators work best in situations where the investment of time to resolve the issue outweighs the outcome of the discussion.
Negotiation Style: Accommodate
An accommodating negotiating style follows the “I lose, you win” model – which does not seem to be in a negotiator’s best interest. Accommodating negotiators are the direct opposite of competitive negotiators. They focus on preserving relationships and building a friendly rapport by sacrificing some of their company’s interests in favor of the opposite party’s interests.
Accommodators tend to try to win people over by giving in to their requests. They tend to share more information than they should. They are often well-liked by their colleagues because of their kindness – but kindness doesn’t work in every negotiation situation. Accommodating negotiation styles work best in situations where your company has caused harm to another and needs to repair a significant relationship. These negotiators are skilled at peacemaking between different bodies.
However, don’t send a pure accommodator alone to a negotiation with a competitive body. They can easily be taken advantage of. An accommodating style can easily turn into a collaborative style with proper training and teamwork.
Which negotiation style describes your negotiation practices the best? Do you tend to compete, collaborate, compromise, accommodate, or avoid? Or do you practice a mixture of negotiation styles, expertly bringing in competition or accommodation to fit the environment? To learn more about how to use your negotiation style to your advantage, visit Shapiro Negotiations today to schedule a negotiation training session.