Here are three questions you may have never asked yourself prior to entering into a negotiation, but should: What kind of negotiator am I? What kind of negotiator would I like to be? And, more importantly, what kind of negotiator do I ‘need’ to be in this situation to emerge victorious? One key to being a master negotiator is intuitively employing different approaches and taking an alternate direction based on each given situation.
But, in order to do this effectively, one must first understand the varying, and quite distinctive, negotiator personality archetypes—one or the other of which most people typically utilize while they “wheel and deal.” Without this strategic aptitude and application of the right persona for the deal at hand, at best it’ll be harder than it needs to be and at worst all could be lost.
What are the typical negotiation personalities? Here are five of nine personality archetypes that we’ll explore. While not all-inclusive, they do represent the primary means by which the majority of people negotiate. Achieving the right balance and striking just the right cord with these archetypes based on each negotiation situation at hand is sure to pay dividends.
1. The Politician – This archetype is someone who influences or outmaneuvers others. They often 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. Often this approach is only advantageous for one’s own advantage—also known as a win-lose proposition.
• Helpful because: The politician archetype is personality-driven more than anything else. Using your charisma to get everyone on the same page for a positive cause or outcome is a great way to build success for a particular cause. This can be helpful in any situation where the greater good is the goal. It is also a great leadership strategy to guide a group towards a particular positive outcome.
• Hindrance because: Relying only on our charisma and ability to galvanize others rather than facts, figures and other pieces of information that can make a deal swing your way in more logical and quantifiable terms can render you vulnerable when it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty for the close. Trust may be compromised if you don’t have the data to back up your position.
2. The Direct Communicator – This archetype is someone who gets to the point every time. They don’t have any time for hearing the story or any excessive communication that will waste time. They want to discuss the facts only and not hear any of the back story or an overabundance of detail. They ask for what they want. Their way of communication is clear, concise, powerful and quick in order to achieve an agreement or resolution to the negotiation situation.
• Helpful because: you will get to the point and not waste time in the weeds with details that could delay, and possibly derail, the deal.
• Hindrance because: you might put the other side off and offend if they are not receptive to this hard-hitting style. You also may miss out on a critical piece of information that might otherwise have been revealed had you spent more time in discussion with the other party.
3. The Hinter – This is the opposite of the Direct Communicator. The Hinter archetype does not ask for anything directly but rather they hint around at what they want. It can be done out of fear of being rejected or, sometimes, it is done as a manipulation technique to get the other party to do what is wanted without having ever been directly asked or mandated.
• Helpful because: It’s a way to test the waters without putting what you want out there in a more committed way. By not making direct requests, you may glean more information—and results—than you would have otherwise by leaving your hints open to interpretation.
• Hindrance because: You may not get any positive traction on what you want to occur or you may appear to be overtly manipulative, which could hinder the deal. This ambiguity can also make coming to terms a much longer and more frustrating and arduous process.
4. The Storyteller – This archetype wants to tell the entire story. This is the person who, if you ask what time it is, they’ll tell you how to build the watch. With this archetype it’s hard to understand what the point is because of the overabundance of information they are sharing.
• Helpful because: You will disclose all details so the other side can fully understand what it is you desire or are presenting—and justifications related thereto. This approach leaves little room for the other side to doubt, can foster a sense of trust and may result in conversation that opens negotiations further to great benefit.
• Hindrance because: Many in today’s time-pressed society don’t have time, patience or inclination to hear the story and don’t want to know ancillary details. The receiving party may tune you out and not hear a word you are saying—and perhaps get impatient and frustrated—because there is too much information being provided. This may make people averse to working with you again.
5. The Bully – This archetype uses aggressive and browbeating behavior to get their way in a negotiation. It could be by yelling or body posture, threats or harassment, menacing words or other fear-based tactics they deem necessary to back the other side into a corner so as to take the power position. The object is to intimidate the other party so they’ll give in and agree to the bully’s terms.
• Helpful because: Exerting your power and dominance up front may prevent the other side from attempting to employ a strategy that takes advantage of you. If they see your strength up front they may change their position before ever asserting it.
• Hindrance because: The other side may regard you as out of control, not in your right mind, and generally unpleasant to deal with. It’s more than likely they’ll not want to do business with you again, and that your reputation will precede you with others.
An archetype is defined as a pattern of behavior or thought or, according to Oxford Dictionary, “a very typical example of a person or thing.” So one’s “negotiation archetype” is someone’s “way of being” throughout the process—those particular characteristics and behaviors that one would use to describe the person and their deal-making methodology. This can be regarded as a “role” being played, whether contrived or realistic, but the emphasis being on how the person is operating within that role.
In my next article I’ll reveal four more negotiation personalities inclusive of how they can each help or hinder a ‘win’.
By Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez, author of “Think Like a Negotiator,” and CEO of Dynamic Vision International