You deal with people every day, sometimes on a casual basis but often in business negotiations. More than likely, you’ve developed your own negotiation style, but it may be different depending on the individual with whom you’re dealing. It also is helpful to know the negotiation style or personality of the person with whom you’re negotiating.
Negotiation and contracts expert Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez says there are nine archetypes that represent the primary means by which the majority of people negotiate.
“Achieving the right balance and striking the right cord with these archetypes based on each negotiation situation at hand is sure to pay dividends,” Lewis-Fernandez says.
1. The Politician – This archetype works to influence or outmaneuver others, says Lewis-Fernandez. They seek support by appealing to popular passions and prejudices through carefully crafted language. “A negotiation politician typically campaigns to influence or persuade others to support their point-of-view,” Lewis-Fernandez says. This approach usually benefits just the politician in a win-lose proposition. Relying only on charisma and your ability to galvanize others rather than on facts can render you vulnerable when it’s time to get down to the close, notes Lewis-Fernandez. Trust may be compromised if you don’t have the data to back up your position.
2. The Direct Communicator – According to Lewis-Fernandez, this archetype is someone who gets to the point every time. They don’t have time for excessive communication; they discuss only the facts and not the back story or an overabundance of detail. Their way of communication is clear, concise, powerful and quick in order to achieve an agreement or resolution to the negotiation situation. However, “you may miss out on a critical piece of information that might otherwise have been revealed had you spent more time in discussion,” Lewis-Fernandez says.
3. The Hinter – This is the opposite of the Direct Communicator. The Hinter archetype does not ask for anything directly out of fear of being rejected or, sometimes, as a manipulation technique to get the other party to do what is wanted without having ever been directly asked or mandated. By not making direct requests, you may glean more information—and results—than you would have otherwise by leaving your hints open to interpretation.
4. The Storyteller – “This is the person who, if you ask what time it is, they’ll tell you how to build the watch,” Lewis-Fernandez says. “It’s helpful because you will disclose all details so the other side can fully understand what it is you desire or are presenting, and why. This approach leaves little room for doubt, can foster a sense of trust and may result in conversation that opens negotiations. On the other hand, it can be a hindrance because people don’t have the time or inclination to hear the story and don’t want to know ancillary details.”
5. The Bully – This archetype uses aggressive and browbeating behavior to get their way in a negotiation. This could be in the form of body posture, threats or harassment, menacing words or other fear-based tactics they deem necessary to back the other side into a corner, Lewis-Fernandez says. The object is to intimidate the other party so they’ll give in and agree to the bully’s terms.
6. The Non Negotiator – This archetype doesn’t negotiate at all. They fear negotiation, which they regard as confrontational, and want no part of it. They will agree to whatever the other party wants even if it means losing out significantly. They just want the situation to go away as quickly as possible.
7. The Victim – Lewis-Fernandez says this archetype attempts to parlay their hard luck to gain sympathy so the other party will “go easy” on them. They may go into great detail about the situation they are experiencing, with the hopeful end game of the opposing party being more receptive and agreeable to their terms. “Oftentimes, people use this style as a manipulation tactic in an attempt to get out of a situation,” Lewis-Fernandez says.
8. The Nutburger – This archetype is someone with whom you can’t negotiate. There’s no reasoning with someone whose behavior is irrational, overly emotional or just plain nutty.
9. My Fair Lady/An Officer and a Gentleman – This archetype is what you want to strive for in your negotiations, points out Lewis-Fernandez. “Characteristics include negotiating with integrity, ethics and considering what is and is not fair and reasonable for both sides to create a win-win outcome.”
Paring It Down
“Individual differences in ‘social motives,’ or our preferences for certain kinds of outcomes when we interact with other people, strongly affect how we approach negotiation,” said Carnegie Mellon University professor Laurie R. Weingart in an article by the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. Drawing on the social motives that drive our behavior, Weingart and other psychologists pinpoint four basic negotiating personalities: individualists, cooperators, competitives and altruists.
Individualists concentrate on maximizing their own outcomes; cooperators focus on win-win negotiations; competitives “are motivated to maximize the difference between their own and others’ outcomes,” says the authors; and altruists strive to maximize their counterparts’ outcomes rather than their own (mostly seen in family negotiations).
The Harvard authors say most research suggests that negotiators with a primarily cooperative style are more successful than hard bargainers at reaching novel solutions that improve everyone’s outcomes. Negotiators who lean toward cooperation also tend to be more satisfied with the process and their results, according to Weingart.
Those people who are most effective use some or all of the archetype characteristics above in differing situations. The key is knowing which ones to use and when to use them ethically and honorably in order to achieve your objectives in the negotiation.