Negotiating styles

Everyone has a tendency to adopt a preferred personal style, or way of reacting to negotiating situations. We may use an approach that has generally worked successfully in the past, one that is comfortable with our personality, or do what we did before without much thought. Not only is it important to recognize your own style, but it is useful to understand the preferred or natural styles of those with whom you have to negotiate. Everyone is capable of adopting various styles, even though we often feel more comfortable in relying upon one style. Most importantly, however, is to adjust your conflict style to match your goals and the style of the other party.

Five basic styles

Consider the following five basic styles for negotiating conflict situations: avoiding, accommodating, competing, compromising and problem solving. Different styles are useful for different purposes.

Assessing styles

By adopting a style that interacts well with that of the other party, you can increase your chances of influencing or persuading them. Culture can also have an impact on styles, and you should be aware of your own and the other party’s possible cultural predisposition.

Style Descripton
Avoiders Avoiders dislike interpersonal conflict. It is sometimes difficult to get avoiders to focus on an issue. On the other hand, this style may be useful if you believe an issue is not worth the cost of arguing over it.
Accommodators Accommodators prefer to deal with problems by accepting solutions more favorable to the other party. This style may be appropriate when the relationship and your future dealings are more important to you than the issue. This style is also useful when an outcome is more important to the other party than it is to you.
Competitors Competitors want to win. This style may be the right approach when the outcome is more important to you than the cost of achieving it.
Compromisers Compromisers prefer good relations with others. This style is useful when achieving part of your goals is better than achieving none of them.
Problem solvers Problem solvers have high concern for their own needs as well as those of the other party. This may be the appropriate approach when the issue and the relationship are important, and working together with the other party can produce an outcome that maximizes both of your needs.