If you have been keeping up with my blogs, you know by now that there are 5 distinct Negotiation Styles: Competing, Compromising, Accommodating, Avoiding, and Collaborating.  Each of us has some of all 5 styles, but we tend to rely most heavily on one or two.  If you haven’t taken the online assessment yet to see which styles you rely on the most, take a few minutes to do that HERE.

When I talk about Negotiation Styles, I inevitably get asked which style I fall into.  The reality is that I move between the styles depending on who I am talking to and what outcome I am looking for in a negotiation.  You most likely do this without realizing it.  In fact, most people have very different styles depending on the relationship they have with the person on the other side of the table.

For some people, this will seem like an obvious observation.  Of course I behave differently when I am speaking to a friend or loved one versus when I am speaking to an adversary!  But for others, this idea of being a different person in different situations isn’t as clear cut.  Let’s talk about that a little more in depth.

Many people don’t realize that “negotiation” is just another word for communication.  We communicate (and therefore negotiate) every day with all sorts of different types of people.  Heck, I even negotiate with my dog on a pretty regular basis!  So let’s stop and think about negotiations in those terms…who do you communicate with on a regular basis?  Your coworkers?  Vendors?  Family?  Friends?  Boss?  Employees?  Sales People?  Coaches?  Clients?  Animals?  (Ok, that last one might just be me)

When you are talking to your boss, do you act exactly the same as you do when speaking to your child?  For most of us, the answer is no.  The reality is that there is a much different relationship between you and your boss (or coworker or vendor or client) than between you and your child.  Some people will say that it is a power dynamic…and to some degree, they might be right…but I would call it a relationship dynamic.

In negotiations, the two major factors that determine your negotiation style are your level of Assertiveness and your level of Cooperativeness.  Now in negotiations, these have a slightly different meaning than in regular conversation.  Assertiveness means how much you care about your own needs.  Cooperativeness means how much you care about the other person’s needs.  When we look at negotiation styles from this perspective, we can see why relationship dynamics are so important!

I care much more about the needs of my family members than I do about the needs of a car salesman that I have never met before.  And this shift in my level of care for the person on the other side of the table makes a huge difference in what type of negotiator I can be in that moment.  When the relationship matters more, we tend to fall further away from the Competitive side of the scale and more towards the Accommodating side of the scale.  For some of us, we shift a full 180 degrees from Competitive to Accommodating.  Others shift a little less so, but there is almost always a shift.

If you are interested in seeing just how much you shift, go back and take that assessment again (you can click HERE), but this time answer the questions as if you were having a conversation with your best friend, your child, or your closest family member.  Did your negotiation style change?  I’d love to hear about some of the revelations you may have experienced by looking at your own style from a new point of view.