Despite many people being afraid or intimidated by the idea of negotiation, there are some people who naturally tend toward it. Or have learned to lean into it.
These type of people usually fall into three categories:
The “You Want To Like Me” Negotiator
The first category of natural negotiators is the “nice” negotiator.
This person goes into a negotiation with the aim of getting the person to like them, and thus win more because the other party will want to give them more.
This sounds somewhat naive when written, but it works quite well, a lot of the time. The basic premise that people give you more when they like you is a sound one. In fact, it should be a cornerstone of many negotiations. Sometimes people go for the short-term win when they realize they have leverage or power over the other party and they stop caring about whether their counterpart likes them.
Nice negotiators can sometimes be persuasive, and when they meet neutral, unprepared, or other nice negotiators, their method can work quite well. However, when up against our next type of negotiator (aggressive), nice negotiators can sometimes lose miserably.
The “I Can Be Meaner Than You and I Have Power” Negotiator
This is the naturally aggressive negotiator. More men tend to fall into this category, but I’ve also seen women exhibit this behavior.
The natural aggressor is someone who has found that being aggressive, to varying degrees, can get them more in a negotiation. And here’s the kicker: it’s usually true! Being aggressive might mean asking for things when others don’t ask, or just asking for more than a less aggressive person would.
Sometimes aggressive negotiators will use anger (feigned or real) or speaking volume to increase the aggressiveness.The more aggressive they get, the more grating it can be on the other party.
This aggressive style typically works to some extent with a more passive or less prepared counterpart. Many people will roll over in the face of an aggressive negotiator, or end up giving up a little just so they don’t have to deal with them anymore. This initially seems like a win, but it’s actually a false sense of success. Many times whatever is gained will be temporary, or the negative feelings from the other side will come back in an unforeseen way.
So will you get more if you’re aggressive? Sometimes. But, what happens when you run up against someone else who is equally or more aggressive? This usually leads to a breakdown of communication, the relationship and/or the deal. Aggressive style negotiators often think they are doing better, but they are really only getting more in certain types of situations, and often it’s temporary.
So is being aggressive effective? It can be. But only if it’s used as a skill you can occasionally rely on and temper. Aggressive and nice don’t have to be antonyms. Remember, no one likes an asshole. (J)
The “You Don’t Realize We’re Negotiating” Negotiator
The point here is not to try to be nicer if you are aggressive or vice versa. The aim is to become a skilled negotiator, using your natural communication tendencies.
So how do you become more skilled? Well, reading this blog is a start. I’ll be covering more and more topics as we dig into psychology, persuasion, influence, debate and negotiation. The short answer is that no one comes into the world and is naturally good at all types of negotiation. The learning either comes from practice and experimentation, or from explicitly seeking out the best practices and applying them.
There are also numerous good books, like this one. Many authors purport that their methodology is very unique and completely opposed to other techniques, but I’ve found most negotiation theory holds more in common than it does difference.
If you take one of my courses, you’ll find that I use a combination of methods and terms to suit a situation, drawing from the best techniques out there.