Leadership & Productivity

These are the 4 main negotiation traits you need to identify in your opponent

8 min read

23 January 2019

Features Editor, Real Business

If you're trying to strike a deal with another entrepreneur and whether you're selling your business or acquiring one, make sure your negotiation skills are strong. Start by understanding what personality you're up against. (Hint) there are four to remember.

Personality is a huge aspect of being an entrepreneur today, but you probably already know that.

Chances are that you’ve already met a number of clients and fellow business owners all with a myriad of different characteristics.

When you’re looking to strike a deal, whether that’s buying a company, selling it, or something else, you must understand the personality of the person you’re dealing with to get it.

So, whatever you’re trying to accomplish in the hard-hitting and competitive world of business, assess the business personality of the person you’re going up against to close your deal.

But where, and how to start?

– The answer, check out these top tips provided below by communications expert, Denise Louise Jeffrey, courtesy of Insurance mega-company Hiscox

These are the four kinds of negotiators you’re bound to find in business

According to Jeffrey, there are four main character archetypes when it comes to business negotiators.

These are the ‘my way or the highway’ types, the ‘sweet talkers’, the ‘devils in the details’ kinda people, and the ‘let’s not rock the boat’ negotiators.

It’s important that you understand how these different negotiators present themselves in a business situation, as by understanding how they tick, you’ll know how to beat them at their own game, here they are:

1. “It’s my way or the highway”

Angry customers

Unsurprisingly, these sorts of people tend to be assertive, dominant, decisive and competitive in behaviour.

“Somebody showcasing this behaviour is in it to win it. A hard nut to crack – they’ll enter the meeting with a resolute idea about how they want it to pan out and will be prepared to fight their ground if necessary.” – Denise Lousie Jeffrey

So how to deal with them?

Jeffrey suggests that you should be proactive with these people. Instead of bowing to their dominant behaviour, call it out. Stand up to them by responding to their aggressive behaviour with your own calmer, yet equally assertive behaviour.

“Be assertive, but without strong-arming them – this is likely to end in conflict. Instead, make firm suggestions and back them up with strong, fact-based reasoning that can’t be argued against.”

– They want you to stand down but don’t. Instead, when trying to negotiate with them in a deal, suggest an approach instead of demanding one aggressively (as they have done).

2.”The sweet talker”

The clue’s in the name here. The sweet-talking entrepreneur is receptive and enthusiastic as well as polite and friendly.

“Mirroring the other person’s behaviour is the best way to get a favourable outcome in a settlement. If somebody is cooperative and receptive at the negotiation table, you want to mirror this behaviour because you’ll get the best results and most respect.”

It’s important to remember that these sorts of characters are nice for a reason, they are usually influential and successful people, thus they have the confidence to come across as a benevolent and pleasant entrepreneur.

If you encounter a sweet-talking character, Jeffrey says you should always be friendly back and operate on their level, there’s no point coming in aggressive if they’re not. Doing so could risk the validity of the deal, should they be turned off by your inappropriately aggressive approach.

3.”The devil’s in the details”

Dividend tax increase

Don’t you dare meet this sort of entrepreneur underprepared. Why? Because whatever deal you’re wanting to strike with them, they’re going to want to know the context, related backstory, and all the facts and figures right from the start.

These sorts of characters tend to be meticulous about the details of a deal, and are hyper-analytical in nature. They also tend to be unemotional and will not go on the charm offensive with you.

So, mirror their behaviour and keep it professional, whilst doing your homework. This means that when you meet them, you’re confident that you can show them the entire and fully detailed picture, should they ask for it, (they will).

“The individual will want everything backed up by facts, and like a poker player, it’s likely they won’t show any emotion. Though they may come across as calculating and cautious, in the long run they want to come to an agreement that benefits both parties.”

A positive aspect of this type of personality is that they’re patient, and would rather sit quietly through a detailed explanation of something than demand answers from the first second of talks.

Jeffrey says preparation is the best thing you can do in advance of meeting this person, so get reading.

4. “Let’s not rock the boat”

Approach this sort of person in a calm way. Be aware of their cautious nature and make them feel comfortable.

This character is cautious and unassertive, so it’s important that you don’t scare them off by coming into the conversation with all guns blazing. Leave any aggression at the door.

“This behaviour signifies that the individual wants to keep the relationship intact. This is particularly common when entering a negotiation with a long-term client or somebody with whom there is already a relationship of value.”

However, these characteristics also mean that they’re accommodating and dependable, which aren’t bad traits to have in the world of business, (a world that’s notorious for trickery and selfish behaviour).

So, how do you negotiate with this type of person? You approach them slowly and steadily, says Jeffrey.

This is perhaps the most enjoyable type of negotiation experience you can have with someone, as it can be more of a relaxed and gentle conversation rather than a battle.

Preparing for these interactions

side hustle

But how do I know what type of negotiator they are if I haven’t met them before? I hear you say…

If you don’t have a pre-existing relationship with the entrepreneur in question, do your research.

Call on people who have done business with them before to gain an insight into their business personality. You’ll know pretty soon if they like to play hard-ball or delve into the details of a deal pretty quickly just from speaking to people who’ve been in the ring with them.

So, go ahead and win that deal, whatever it might be…