Are you too tough or too soft in negotiation? Most people aim for somewhere in between, but every negotiator will have certain tendencies which may be difficult to overcome.
Academics in the US have developed a useful classification system of negotiation personalities on the basis of 'social motive'.
They looked at what drives different personalities from a psychological perspective, and how that motive manifests itself in negotiation strategies.
Social motives can shift and change depending on the circumstances, for example who you are negotiating against and who is privy to the negotiations. Nonetheless, you may find you identify with one more than the others.
Individualists or 'egoists' are primarily concerned with maximising their own outcome without regard to the outcome of their counterparties. This is the most common social value orientation for negotiators according to studies conducted in the United States.
Cooperators are those who are place significant value on maximising the total gain of the negotiating parties, even at the expense of their own gain. This is the second most common negotiation style.
Competitors care about their own outcomes relative to that of their counterparties, who they view as 'opponents'. This negotiation style is less common, and is probably less effective. When it comes to complex problem-solving, competitor negotiators may struggle to build the necessary trust to share information and solve problems effectively.
Altruists consider maximising the gain of others as more important than maximising their own gain. This behaviour is rare in practice, and unlikely to occur in a typical commercial negotiation.
The Impact of Your Negotiation Style
Academics have conducted a huge range of experiments and studies that have made it possible to predict how negotiators within these categories will react to different scenarios.
One interesting insight is that people tend to assume that their counterparties have a similar social value orientation to themselves. Thus cooperators tend to be more trusting or their opponents while competitors are less so.
Other studies have shown that negotiation styles of two negotiators tend to drift together over the course of a negotiation. For example, a cooperator confronted with an individualist is likely to become more self-serving. The study concluded that this was because even a cooperator was wary of being taking advantage of i.e. becoming a 'sucker'.
What's Your Negotiation Style?
So what social factor most drives you? Which style is best? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.
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