Denise Jeffrey concludes her piece about how the behaviour of your negotiation counterparts can give you valuable clues about what’s driving them.
Reading time: 5m 30s.
Here’s a look at some of the different ways people approach negotiations, and how deal with them.
How to get a friendly negotiator down to business
Some of the greatest negotiators of all time have fit the ‘sweet talker’ profile. Friendly, enthusiastic and open, they approach every negotiation with a positivity and friendliness that can — if you’re not expecting it — catch you off guard.
But these are the people you want to be in the room with, and the style of negotiation that you should be emulating.
These kind of business people recognise that the best partnerships are symbiotic — both parties have something to bring to the table. This is true whether it’s a recruiter and a future employee, a CEO and a small business owner, or a supplier and a vendor.
In some situations, the idea of changing the relationship between yourself and another party is utterly panic inducing.
They want to keep things harmonious, and as a result they use their charm and personability to achieve the outcome they’re looking for.
Richard Branson is the perfect example of a person who uses this negotiation style. By being receptive to new ideas and openly demonstrating his enthusiasm he influences the people around him. And honestly? It’s hard not to get sucked in. He’s an absolute pro and will very rarely take no for an answer.
The best way to get a good outcome out of a negotiation with this kind of character is to mirror their behaviour. Relationships are clearly important here, so by showing yourself to be on the same page, you’re going to get the best results and earn the most respect.
Schedule your meeting in a relaxed setting, don’t forget the niceties, and don’t get bogged down by too many details.
Dealing with a reluctant negotiator
Not everyone’s face lights up at the mention of a business negotiation. In some situations, the idea of changing the relationship between yourself and another party is utterly panic inducing. If it’s not broke, why fix it?
This can be one of the trickiest negotiation attitudes to understand how to deal with.
If someone’s exhibiting ‘let’s not rock the boat’ behaviour, it’s important to understand that one of their primary concerns is clearly keeping their relationship with you intact. Yes, you might need to shake things up a bit, but from their perspective, that might involve facing some harsh truths about what each of you is really getting out of the relationship.
One of the best ways to work with a reluctant negotiator, so as to maintain your long-term relationship, is to take the softly-softly approach.
There’s little sense in trying to strong arm someone you’re striking a business deal with. Besides the ethical and moral implications, you’re eroding trust. The only outcomes you can expect from trying to force a change the other party isn’t ready for are a) being given a hard no, or b) having your terms agreed to, only to damage the relationship — potentially irreparably.
Instead, take advantage of your understanding of this person to find a way to benefit them. Take a slow and steady manner, and above all master the ‘give and take’.
How to prepare for a detail-oriented negotiation
There’s nothing that can quite strike fear into your heart like someone asking you a question you don’t know the answer to. And if you come to a negotiating table underprepared, chances are someone will catch you out.
Often a kind of behaviour exhibited by a perfectionist, negotiating with someone who has a head for numbers and an in-depth understanding of all the finer details of your discussion can be nerve wracking. These are the sort of people who will ask you to back up every statement you make and will expect you to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of everything that’s brought up.
To make things even more intimidating, people with this kind of razor-sharp curiosity will often display as distant and calculating, but it’s important to remember that the aim of a negotiation — from their perspective as well as yours — is to achieve a deal that benefits both parties.
Preparation is, of course, of paramount importance when negotiating with someone who behaves in this way — but thorough preparation should be your lodestar regardless of who you’re dealing with.
Instead, think about how you’ll present your facts and figures to the person involved. Depending on whether that person is highly visual or very mathematical you can provide spreadsheets, or graphical representations of your data. If you’re in a room with several different people, it never hurts to provide both.
Handling an aggressive negotiator
It’s everyone’s worst nightmare. You come to a meeting prepared to work towards a mutually acceptable outcome and the person you’re dealing with is straight up aggressive. Everything they do and say screams ’my way or the highway’ and there’s no way you can see yourself coming out of this meeting with anything like a good deal.
If you’re ever in this situation, don’t panic. This isn’t good negotiating. In fact, it’s just unprofessional.
People who act like this in negotiation situations are clearly in it to win it. They want to get what they can take and get out of there; it’s not about the win-win, it’s about the victory. And if you let them, they will dictate how the meeting pans out – so staying strong and firm is imperative.
Always remain professional and polite, but don’t let the behaviour slide. The biggest mistake you can make is to assume that you would be perceived as being rude for drawing attention to their bad behaviour. Call them out on it. And if they respond poorly? Rearrange the negotiations. You have to let them know that there’s simply no way you can move forward in this manner.
Yes, they might get annoyed about this — but imagine how annoyed their boss, partner or shareholders will be when they explain why the negotiations have had to be rearranged.
Once they understand that you know what they’re trying to do (intimidate you) they’re likely going to drop the behaviour and come back to the table with a different outlook.
Ultimately, negotiating is about communicating your wants and needs, and the way you respond to others’ behaviour will determine your success. Remember that — whatever the media might have you believe — a negotiation is not a battle; it’s a dance.
Read part one of this feature here.
About the author
Denise Jeffrey is an executive and leadership coach.