Changing Your Negotiation Style

Oct 28 • Ilona Nurmela • Comments: 0
Change is inevitable. Today, you are not the same person you were 10 years ago. Somewhere along the way you have chosen to adopt new skills and learn new things. Including to get smarter about negotiations.
If you are not comfortable with change happening, this just means you are not quite prepared to step out of your comfort zone. Maybe your comfort zone is smaller than someone you admire, who is willing to change industries, not just jobs, try everything in life once and who adapts seemingly without any effort to any changed circumstance.

Remember when you were a kid, you believed that you can do anything? If you are lucky - or if you have worked a lot with dismantling limiting beliefs - you still believe that. What does this have to do with negotiations and negotiation styles? Well, if you want to change your negotiation strategy and style from adversarial to principled, how much you succeed depends on how flexible you can be. Adaptation is a learnt trait. How much you can change actually depends on how much you want to. So, how much do you want to get better results at negotiations? How much are you prepared to be mighty uncomfortable while you are still learning?

Adversarial negotiations and principled negotiations are two different ends of a spectrum. Adversarial negotiations are not unprincipled - they just follow different logic of distributive, tit-for-tat and win/lose. Principled negotiations are interests-based and geared towards finding joint options. Finding mutual gains and future benefits involves creativity and is easier for those that see patterns rather than facts and don't mind reshuffling the chessboard looking for possibilities until everyone is happy (more likely the Ns or intuitives and Ps or perceivers on the Myers-Briggs aka MBTI scale). Now, if you prefer your information chronologically and factually, and prefer decisions once made to be always honoured, even after they turn out to be bad decisions - you are an S or sensing and/or J or judging personality, which means your thinking is centred more on the past, and you mould your future based on past experiences. Either approach is valid and none is right or wrong. How can anything be wrong if it suits you and plays to your strengths? But aren't you curious about how people who are completely different from you have reached the conclusions and actions that they have? Would you want to be able to do what they do?

We are all conditioned animals because that’s the layer of learning we’ve voluntarily taken on, sometimes to the point of losing who we are (more about that perhaps in another post on coaching). "Do this because it is acceptable/good (to me/others)" and "Don't do that because it is bad/unfair/unacceptable (to me/others)" - sounds familiar? We take it on board and we test the idea/belief out. If the suggested idea works, the condition becomes part of our experience. As result we accumulate beliefs about the world, about ourselves, our skills, abilities, things we can do, things we cannot do.

If you believe you can vary your negotiation style, you can. If you believe you cannot, you cannot. The wolf that you feed is the one that grows stronger, yes. Well, if you are rather high on your MBTI scale percentages (e.g. 67% T or 89% S - high on objective thinking and trusting your 5 senses), you might not even want to vary anything - why fix your style if it isn't broken? Now, if you do try a different approach to your usual, then high MBTI percentage people might find it very difficult to be who they are normally not. Those with low MBTI percentages, e.g. 1% Ns (intuitives) or 17% Ps (perceivers) might find it easier to adapt to being an S (sensing) or a J (judger) - aka instead of thinking intuitively use the other 5 senses to establish the facts and have more respect for the deadlines.

An instant upskill via metal stick to the brain to get new skills like in The Matrix seems preferable just about now, doesn't it? :) Lazy option, even if convenient and I myself occasionally would prefer it instead of going and trying out to learn new, interesting and uncomfortable things. Let me uncomplicate this quickly. Do you want to learn new ways of doing things? No? Keep to what feels comfortable for you, in life and in negotiations. Yes? Well then, try something new to see, if it works better. If you feel it doesn't work or you prefer going about things the way you always have, that is perfectly ok. But what if...just WHAT IF you'll try active listening and get more information that will help you modify your strategy for the better? Or what if you take into account the interests of the other person as well or deliver information in a way that makes sense to your partner and craft a better deal than you originally envisaged? Or...why not...what if you match a threat with a threat before you dismantle the situation with humour....and get your "adversary's" respect?

...If only you believed change IS possible... :-)

P.S. Those that want to know their MBTI, take this 15-30min free test:

P.P.S. Those that want to know how their MBTI score influences them in negotiations, see an article by Don Peters called “FOREVER JUNG: PSYCHOLOGICAL TYPE THEORY, THE MYERS-BRIGGS TYPE INDICATOR AND LEARNING NEGOTIATION” 42(1) Drake Law Review 1993. If you don’t have access to legal databases, then you might need to purchase short-term access to

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