The Negotiator Magazine

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Everyone is different. Every situation is different. So you should vary your approach to negotiating according to the person with whom you're dealing, and according to what you want out of the deal.

There are three types of negotiation you can choose from which will make the process more productive and successful.

Viewed in a one dimensional linear flow, at one end is the Quick Type, the other end the Deliberate Type, and right in the middle is Compromise Type, which is used too quickly, too often by too many negotiators.

The Quick Type

Use this approach when you need to negotiate in a hurry. The main consideration: you will not (or not within the foreseeable future) be doing business again with that individual or organisation.

A characteristic of the quick style is that it's fairly competitive between the buyer and the seller. Both take a position; neither is keen to move from that position. Most academic researchers refer to this type of approach as a 'distributive negotiation'.

The behavioural characteristics exhibited by parties using a quick approach style of negotiation have been researched at length. The person using this type of negotiation sees competition as a necessary part of winning and will focus on the deal at the expense of any relationship.

Lax and Sebenius (1986) describe distributive negotiation as competitive, with both pa1ties attempting to claim benefits for themselves (Roy H. Andes, art. 27, P 125). TIus negotiation type is competitive, for clainUng value necessarily deprives the other party of the same value.

This type of negotiation often destroys relationslups and the immediate value is seen as the prize.

The Compromise Type

This type of approach to negotiation is often seen as an effective form of negotiation, as each side walks away from the table with some form of deal. The relationslup is preserved and an outcome is achieved, often fairly quickly.

This style is used when it is obvious that both you and the other side want to reach an agreement, however there are a couple of points that still need to be resolved. Normally you will hear someone say, "Let's split the difference!"

As I have seen in my work with companies and individuals around the world, this approach often results in a sub-optimal outcome. Nevertheless, as pressure is applied to budgets, forecasts and incentives, this type of negotiation is becoming very popular.

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March 2005