Negotiation Styles – Part 1: What ARE they?

Negotiation Styles - Creative Conflict

There are 5 major identified negotiation styles: Competitive, Compromising, Collaborative, Accommodating, and Avoiding.  Each style relies on a person’s Assertiveness and Cooperativeness.  People rank from Low to High in each of these factors and then the intersection of their Assertiveness and Cooperativeness scores reflects their Negotiation Style.  If I haven’t lost you already, I’ll explain what that means in plain English.


Assertiveness is how much a person is looking out for his or her own needs/wants.  In a negotiation, this is often thought of as the person’s attitude of win-lose as opposed to someone with a win-win motivation.  I suppose the easiest way to think of assertiveness is a person who is being selfish in a negotiation; ie only looking out for him/herself.  This is different than how we think of assertiveness in every day life. So, it is important to recognize that it has a specific meaning in the context of negotiations.


Cooperativeness is the opposite of assertiveness when we are talking about negotiations.  People who score high in cooperativeness are more concerned with the needs of others in the negotiation and less concerned with their own needs.  These are the people who are often looking for a win-win solution as opposed to a win-lose solution.  Again, although there are similarities between this definition of cooperativeness and our general thoughts on the term. It may not fall exactly in line with how you have used the word in every day life.

Negotiation Styles

Ok, so on to these different styles of negotiation: Competing, Compromising, Collaborating, Accommodating, and Avoiding.  How do you know which style you generally use in a negotiation?  The answer lies in how assertive you are vs. how cooperative you are.  For example, people who are high on the assertiveness scale and low on the cooperativeness scale are what we call Competing Style Negotiators.  On the other end of the spectrum, people who are high on the cooperativeness scale and low on the assertiveness scale are what we call Accommodating Style Negotiators.  Each of the 5 Negotiation Styles falls on this scale of Assertiveness and Cooperativeness.

Assertiveness vs Cooperativeness

Over the course of the next few blogs, we will go into more depth about each style.  However, if you are curious about what YOUR negotiation style is, click here to take our Negotiation Style Self-Assessment!