Is one negotiation style “better” than another?
Most research suggests that negotiators with a primarily cooperative style are more successful than hard bargainers at reaching novel solutions that improve everyone’s outcomes.
Negotiators who lean toward cooperation also tend to be more satisfied with the process and their results, according to Weingart.
At the same time, claiming value and lobbying tenaciously for your position can be equally important negotiation strategies.
We recommend that you strive for balance: focus on building a cooperative relationship and creating value, then work to claim as much as you can of that value for yourself.
Develop your style
The following three tips can help you stay aware of and enhance your personal negotiating style:
1. Practice at home.
Rather than trying to overhaul your negotiating style completely, work on bolstering your natural abilities and trying out appropriate strategies from other styles in a low-key setting. If you have a hard time advocating for yourself, for example, being assertive with friends and family members will boost your confidence in high-pressure negotiations.
2. Build trust with small wins.
Allowing your counterpart to achieve a small win early in your talks promotes trust and cooperation, according to Tinsley and O’Connor. You might tell your counterpart that he’s free to set the meeting time, location, or the order of your agenda. Such minor concessions may bring out the best negotiation style in both of you.
3. Enhance your reputation.
Because our negotiating styles often precede us, do what you can to enhance your reputation as a cooperative and fair negotiator. During talks, label your concessions clearly,
lest your counterpart overlook your cooperative behavior. And when the negotiation ends, thank the other side for her cooperation and express your desire to work together again. These steps may motivate your counterpart to speak well of you to potential partners.
Are you confident in your negotiation skills? Leave a comment.
This article on negotiation skills is adapted from “Is Your Bargaining Style Holding You Back?,” first published in the December 2009 issue of Negotiation.
The best negotiators have high contextual intelligence (CI). A key element of CI is the ability and readiness to move one’s own style along a combative-collaborative continuum, and to induce counterpart negotiators to do the same.