If you can easily fit your negotiation style into a single category, then you may not be leveraging the full spectrum of styles that are available to you. Effective negotiators understand the value of various negotiation styles and look for opportunities to adjust their approach to the needs of individual negotiation scenario.
It's not uncommon for negotiators to adjust their style and strategy to their opponent's negotiation style. At the same time, business professionals need to strike a balance between exploiting the vulnerabilities of the other person's style and remaining true to their own moral and ethical core. Some negotiation styles are simply not an option for certain personalities.
Although there are countless variations, negotiation styles generally fall into three categories. Your decision to adopt a specific style will be influenced by the way you interpret the other party's negotiation strategy and the way you prefer to conduct yourself during negotiations.
A style that is characterized by excessive concessions will be interpreted as a sign of weakness during negotiations. But sometimes a weak negotiating style is part of a larger negotiation strategy in which the individual is willing to give away a lot now in hopes of gaining an advantage later. Then again, weakness could indicate a lack of confidence or skill. If the person you are negotiating with exhibits a weak style, you may have an opportunity to strengthen your position – but be cautious.
At the other end of the spectrum, aggressive negotiators can be abrasive and unyielding. They know what they want and seem to be willing to do whatever is necessary to get it. When you encounter an aggressive negotiator, it can be an indication that the other party has a power position. On the other hand, an aggressive style can be used as a bluff to conceal a weak position. Rather than allowing yourself to be intimidated by an aggressive negotiator, direct the discussion back to a more rational, fact-based negotiation process.
A collaborative negotiation style is one that is seeks to achieve a win-win outcome. Collaborative negotiators are just as competitive as aggressive negotiators, but they strive to base their strategy on mutually beneficial results and the rules of fair play. Even though someone may ultimately gain the upper hand, collaborative negotiation styles are generally seen as more successful than other styles because they ensure that the process is fair and equitable.