The 3 Types of Negotiators and How to Tell Which One You Are

Are there different styles of negotiating that work best for different situations? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Chris Voss, Author of Never Split The Difference, CEO of The Black Swan Group, on Quora:

There's a difference between style and strategy when it comes to negotiation. You should be prepared to adjust your strategy as you learn more about both the situation at hand and the person across the table from you.

What style works the best overall?

What is the best approach? Likeability and the tactical application of empathy.

There's three basic styles - three basic default types to negotiation, and each has an advantage. Ultimately the best negotiator incorporates the best of all three.

Assertive (aggressive), Accommodator (relationship oriented) and Analyst (conflict avoidant) are the types.

The Assertive is "win" oriented. Often direct and blunt to the point of being harsh. This type is generally lacking in empathy and sees time as money. They get big victories early on, but then burn people out. They ultimately drive people, relationships and opportunities away.

Everyone does need to be able to assert on their own behalf though.

You can't be a good business partner if you don't let other people know what you need out of a deal. "Hoping" others guess what you need, instinctively intuit what you need, or give it to you out of benevolence is not a good long term survival strategy.

You also have to be able to say "no". Assertives are good at saying "no". Everyone needs to be able to express "no" in order to keep from getting taken hostage and destroyed in a deal. The assertive is generally the best at this.

Some might think this style is good for "one-off" negotiations. The problem is "one-off" negotiations are in reality rare. Not quite "unicorns", but almost. People that you "beat" are pretty much always still in your world and therefore in a position to affect your life negatively given the opportunity.

The Analyst is "win" oriented also, just not as "in-your-face". They love data and detailed preparation. They view time as "as long as it takes to get it right". They often seem cold and distant. They're always prepared, or they won't talk to you until they are.

Their desire to prepare, not get overly rattled and think things through is an advantage. Their fear of getting caught off-guard can keep them from getting to the negotiation table before they should.

They have a good understanding of the need for a solid, implementable deal.

The Accommodator is relationship oriented and the most likable. Being likeable is a great asset, needing to be liked is a great vulnerability. I've heard Stuart Diamond (author of Getting More) say people are six times more likely to make a deal with someone they like. (I believe him.) This is no small edge.

Because of a desire to have a good relationship, Accommodators can find themselves either getting pushed around or not making good implementable deals.

Both the Assertive and the Analyst eventually figure out that being as pleasant to deal with as the Accommodator will increase their deal-making ability and learn to copy it.

Being likeable and intentionally applying the emotional intelligence of empathy (tactical empathy) is the best overall approach. Think implementation through, be prepared to express "no", look for great long-term relationships and you will be the most successful negotiator under the widest variety of situations that you can be.

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