Have you ever wondered if your negotiation style is too tough or too accommodating? Too cooperative or too selfish? You might strive for an ideal balance, but, chances are, your innate and learned tendencies will have a strong impact on how you negotiate.
Wise negotiators seek to identify these tendencies and enhance them according to the situation.
Individual differences in “social motives,” or our preferences for certain kinds of outcomes when we interact with other people, strongly affect how we approach negotiation, according to Carnegie Mellon University professor Laurie R. Weingart. Drawing on the social motives that drive our behavior, Weingart and other psychologists have pinpointed four basic negotiating personalities:
Individualists concentrate primarily on maximizing their own outcomes and show little concern for others’ outcomes. According to studies of businesspeople and students, about half of U.S. negotiators have an individualist negotiation style. Instead of creating value, individualists tend to claim it, argue their positions forcefully, and, at times, make threats.
Cooperators focus on maximizing their own and their counterparts’ results. Composing about 25% to 35% of the U.S. population studied, cooperators are motivated to ensure that each party in a negotiation receives her fair share. Cooperators are more open to value-creating strategies—such as exchanging information and making multi-issue offers—than individualists are. (Note that although individualists outnumber cooperators in the United States, in other cultures, cooperators can be more prevalent than individualists.)
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