There are five principal negotiating strategies. You will probably be naturally inclined to follow one of them. However, all of them have their advantages and disadvantages and are appropriate for different negotiating situations.
Compete - This strategy is where the negotiator uses all possible tactics to get exactly what he or she wants. He or she is not willing to compromise at all. This strategy is appropriate when you know something is non-negotiable and it is necessary to obtain an immediate result. The drawback to this approach is that it can often lead to a stalemate situation.
Accommodating - Accommodating another’s demands is the opposite of competing. This style is generally used where the negotiator considers the relationship to be the most important thing. It’s best employed where your company is responsible for something going wrong and a relationship needs to be repaired. It also may be an appropriate strategy when your negotiating position is very weak.
Avoid - Also known as a “passive aggressive” approach. Rather than be open with the counterparty about the real issues, people using this style avoid or perhaps delay addressing them. However, they may instead take revenge in sneaky ways. One negotiator could lapse into this sort of behavior in response to a counterparty exhibiting a strong compete style. Avoiding is best used when parties involved in negotiating are highly emotional or if the negotiation is trivial. Also, it may be best to employ an avoid style where you have been dragged into a negotiation unprepared.
Compromise and Collaborative - These two separate styles are often mistaken as being the same. Compromise is what most people think of as being negotiation. It usually involves dividing up what is “on the table”. This means the parties involved get about half of what they were looking for in the exchange. This approach is best used when you don’t have a lot of time and the counterparty can be trusted.
A collaborative style on the other hand employs more creative and lateral thinking. This negotiation style is about working to ensure all parties have their needs met and end up with as much value as is possible. This style requires more time as innovative solutions need to be designed. It also requires trust among all parties to the negotiation.
What is your natural negotiating style? Have you learned to employ one of these other negotiation strategies even though it was not a natural “fit” for you? What was the result?
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