Following the negotiations taking place in Washington D.C. for the past several weeks many with whom I work have been curious to understand what a good negotiation looks like. In particular they have become interested in what makes for the most successful style and approach in terms of reaching an agreement that they see as successful.
It’s a very interesting issue to consider because in so many ways and especially as related to our jobs, we have so many occasions to negotiate in order to achieve the direction we think something should go … or the salary we believe we should receive … or the position we desire to hold. As this has become a topic of coaching conversation recently I believe it to be something worthy of exploring for all of us.
ManagerDoor.com is an on-line organization that is a learning tool of relevant information for employees. In writing about negotiating they make these observations:
- From awakening each day until we are again asleep our lives are filled with negotiations … be it navigating our way through traffic, asking for time off or a raise, or trying to coming to an agreement with our partners or children for something they or we want … we are in various states of negotiating.
- Negotiating is a process that enables us to get what we want. It can be fast or can take a prolonged period of time.
- Whereas some things for which we negotiate can be relatively simple and easy, others are critical as doing it right or wrong can have a big impact on us as an individual.
- There are different styles of negotiating and although one may be more appropriate in a given case, using the wrong style can have a huge impact one on the outcome and the person doing it.
Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Killman have worked with many organizations in the area of conflict and the related resolution. As such they have identified five styles of resolution and involve negotiating to achieve whatever the intended goal that are widely accepted in the business world. These are:
- Competing (I win – You lose)
This style of negotiation is best described as competitive. Negotiators using this style are looking out for their own needs. They use a variety of tactics to get what they want and their concern for the relationship is low.
- Accommodating (I Lose – You Win)
This style of negotiation is all about the relationship and is the polar opposite of the Competing style. By giving everything to the other party one is hopeful that maybe in time they will do the same.
- Compromising (I Lose / Win Some – You Lose/ Win Some)
The old adage ‘pick your battles’ applies here. This style values the relationship and acknowledges that there is a loss but it is better to compromise then completely lose. This style is common when the negotiating parties have a high level of trust between each other and there are time restrictions.
- Collaborating (I Win – You Win)
Collaborative negotiators are innovators! They recognize that both parties have needs that must be met and take the time to find creative solutions to this common challenge.
- Avoiding (I Lose – You Lose)
This style is a ‘passive aggressive style’. The user of this style is unassertive and uncooperative. They do not immediately pursue their own concerns or the other parties nor do they ever address the conflict. The adopters of this style won’t address the conflict yet they will seek ways of retribution.
All styles have advantages and risks. Sometimes one style may be more useful in certain situations than in others. In order to be the most effective negotiator, we must recognize our own tendency, assess as best as possible the counterpart’s style, and adjust our own to allow for smoother negotiations. While the collaborative style may not make sense in all negotiations, this mode can be especially effective with business situations because of the long-term nature of the relationships internally and externally, as well as the need for strong substantive negotiation outcomes.
As the above styles are generally accepted as the different ways to approach and conduct a negotiation there are also a choice of strategies. Chris Voss, the CEO of the Black Swan Group has identified them as such:
- The Assertive is “win” oriented. Often direct and blunt to the point of being harsh. This type isgenerally lacking in empathy and sees time as money. They get big victories early on, but then burn people out. They ultimately drive people, relationships and opportunities away.
- The Analyst is “win” oriented also, just not as “in-your-face”. They love data and detailed preparation. They view time as “as long as it takes to get it right”. They often seem cold and distant. They’re always prepared, or they won’t talk to you until they are. Their desire to prepare, not get overly rattled and think things through is an advantage.
- The Accommodator is relationship oriented and the most likable. Being likeable is a great asset, needing to be liked is a great vulnerability. Voss quotes Stuart Diamond (author of Getting More) say people are six times more likely to make a deal with someone they like. This is no small edge.
Based on this information I’m not sure how I would classify the negotiations that have been and are continuing within our government in D.C. Of course we’re all individually hoping that things go as we would like them to go. And while we can’t have direct input to what happens, we can definitely use our observations to sensitize ourselves to the type of negotiation that we believe fits our own needs, personalities and style as well as assessing the other person with whom we are negotiating.
It appears that devoting some advance planning prior to launching a negotiation will have definite benefits In doing so we just may have increased the likelihood of our personally being successful in achieving whatever we pursue.