Negotiating with Style

We all know the golden rule … Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

The Platinum Rule

Dr. Tony Alessandra in his new book, The Platinum Rule (1996 Warner Books) says there is a better way … Do unto others as they want to be done unto”.

How does this relate to negotiation? Quite simply we negotiate with people or groups of people. As the personality styles of our counterparts vary, so must we vary our approaches to different people. We can review the wonderful information in Dr. Alessandra¹s book and then make some decisions as to our particular approach with particular personalities.

Different people observe, interpret, and act on information differently.

Here is a short summary of the four styles that Dr. Alessandra discusses in his book:

  • Directors ‹ Football coaches, drill sergeants, dictators. Directors are challenge oriented take-charge decision makers. Achievement and success are defined by overcoming obstacles and realizing accomplishments.
  • Socializer ‹ Are “people” people. PR directors, sales people, actors and speakers. Appreciation and recognition are what the socializer seeks. Time spent schmoozing is time well spent.
  • Relaters ‹ Friendly and reliable. Relaters are team players who exercise extreme patience in difficult times and work for the long term gain.
  • Thinkers ‹ Serious, analytical people with long term goals. They ponder choices until they have all the information and analysis to make a proper, well thought out decision.

How each style tends to operate and how to negotiate with each is critical to the overall success in our negotiations.

Directors like to take action … to accept challenges … to achieve and accomplish … fear being “soft”. The best way to negotiate with a director is to offer him or her a selection of several potential alternatives and a deadline. Let them choose. They will feel “in charge” and if you’re careful in designing the potential alternatives you will get what you want.

The Socializer wants to “shoot the breeze” … have fun … make a favorable impression … speak with an articulate style. They fear being disliked. They want you to be their friend … ask them about themselves … appreciate their wit. If they like you and believe you like them they will do business with you and make you a great deal.

Relaters want tranquility and stability… They desire a stable work environment… They like to sit or stay in one place. They want predictability and reliability in any important transaction. They do not like surprises, changes, or modifications without advance notice. To successfully negotiate with the relater we need to emphasize our trustworthiness and the predictable, reliable nature of the transaction. Following the step by step process to predictable reliable results works the best here.

Thinkers are fact-oriented and take pride on being meticulous. They want to know how things work and want time to analyze and organize tasks. Their work is high quality, although sometimes they take longer than we would like for them to take. They can be perceived as over critical and sometimes insensitive. Their biggest fear is being wrong. They would rather not make a decision than to make a poor or incorrect (irrational) decision.

Negotiating is a person to person process.

Have fun the next time you negotiate by observing carefully the personality style cues exhibited by your counterpart(s).

Being sensitive to personality orientation can really increase our successes, reduce friction, and lead us to better agreements.

Try it … You’ll be negotiating with style!

John Patrick Dolan, Attorney at Law, Certified Specialist Criminal Law, CSP, CPAE is a recognized expert in the field of negotiation. He travels throughout the world presenting lively keynote speeches and in-depth training programs for business and legal professionals. Call 1-800-859-0888 for more information.

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