While preparing to facilitate the ABA seminar on Negotiation, I came across some interesting information that I thought might be useful to my readers.

By Eleanor Southers
Included is a bit more information that will prove helpful in continuing to analyze your and others style of negotiation. It should also make you aware of how you can use your strengths in negotiation to come out with even greater results.

For this exercise, it is important for you use two types of bargaining styles.  One is called Distributive Bargaining as described by Brad Spangler in his June 2003 blog  and approaches negotiation on a win-lose basis. One party always loses. The Individualistic and the Competitive Style Negotiator use this type of bargaining.

The other type of bargaining is the Mutual Gain Bargainer. That person sees the negotiation as a mutual problem-solving exercise. This also includes open communication, brainstorming, trust and mutual respect. The purpose is to fulfill the interests of both of the parties. The Cooperative Negotiator uses this type of bargaining behavior.

This is not to say that negotiators use only one type of bargaining throughout a discussion but to recognize that the style of the person on the opposing side is going to be slanted towards one or the other bargaining type can be empowering.

Also you should be aware that some experienced negotiators will begin the talks using a Cooperative/Mutual Gain Bargaining style until the “pie” is expanded to its ultimate size. Then how to cut the pieces up among the parties will turn the negotiator into a Competitive/Distributive Bargainer.

Although styles of negotiation has been analyzed by many,  including Harvard Medical School and MIT and been given different titles, much of the above is taken from Cengage.  You can take a test to find out more about this particular way of naming and identifying  styles at


This, of course, is your extreme Individualistic or Competitive Style of negotiator. This is the kind of person who never lets you get a word in and usually comes into the meeting saying they don’t expect the case to settle.
They make their stand and do not waive from it no matter how long or hard the others work to provide reasoning. One often wonders why this type of person would even agree to negotiate but there are all kinds of reasons, including that the Court or the boss told him or her to.

If, after pulling out all your bag of tricks, you can get no further than a first demand and offer, then giving up is usually the only alternative. This is the time that you bring forth your BATNA which you have previously prepared. You might want to share that with the hostile party or you might just want to keep it to yourself.

There is one or two more tactics that you might explore before you walk out the door. Do you think someone else could reason with this person? If so, send them in. You might cut the negotiation short and ask for another meeting, setting a date on the spot. This will give you time to regroup and maybe get to a higher up who can help out. Also by cutting the meeting off but wanting to continue the negotiation will give you the power back. The problem is to come up with a different plan at the next meeting.

These are your people who say “yes” to all your opinions, theories, facts and talk but never want to discuss settlement. If you have ever encountered one of these, you start out feeling that you have the meeting aced. Soon you find out that you could stay there for 3 weeks and still not get anywhere.

The clue is to identify this off shoot of the cooperative appearing but really competitive type immediately. Otherwise you will be wasting a lot of your time.

You might try calling the game on this negotiator and saying something like “ You seem to be in agreement with my position, but I notice you don’t seem to want to actually negotiate the terms. Am I right? Is there some problem I can help you with?” These kind of people hate to have their game identified. On the other hand, you might just stop all communication by this.

The other thing to try is to only focus on the outcome and try to use techniques that work with the Competitive negotiator. Don’t get into your arguments regarding the substance of the meeting but go right for an agreement. Probably won’t work but worth a try. These types of people are particularly hard to pin down.

You will sometimes see this in a lay person who doesn’t understand how the meeting is conducted. You might, however, also get this from an attorney who likes to pull a “Colombo” on you. They are disguised Competitive negotiators.

The lay person may just need some guidelines and knowledge about how to conduct a negotiation, so don’t just jump to the conclusion that you are being “conned”. If you do feel that a more sophisticated person is playing naïve just for your benefit, then you really have a job ahead of you. Frequently, you may hear something like “I don’t know how this works”. Don’t be trapped into giving a lesson in negotiation. Hit back with “Well, I’m going to tell you what I want and why I think it is fair and you are going tell me what you think is fair if you don’t agree with me”. This is probably the only way you will ever get your side out on the table because these kinds of negotiators can take you up and down all kinds of side roads before they ever get to the resolution. Their method is to confuse the real issues, so beware.

These are trickier than the seemingly naïve negotiator. They appear to be discussing the issues at hand but really are not. They will include a lot of war stories and try to keep you defocused. They will wear you down as the hours drag on and on and you are not moving closer to an agreement. Again, underneath it all, they are Competitive negotiators who would like you to say yes to whatever they finally come up with after an in terminable siege.

If you truly believe you have one of these on your hands, the best thing to do is to call their game and put your demand on the table immediately. They will then go off in never, never land and at that point, you will have to stop the meeting and set another time to continue. I know this is hard to do, especially when you have a client counting on you.

The other tactic is to call them on what they are doing. Again, this can blow everything up and will depend on how much real motivation the other party has for wanting a settlement. You can gently say something like “I am really enjoying your stories but unfortunately I have limited time and need to focus on reaching a resolution. In fact since I only have a few minutes left, can we both put out our opening offers”.

The real problem with all four of these types of difficult negotiators is that you don’t have the ability to flush out all the possible solutions, to brainstorm and increase the size of the pie through some collaborative efforts. Recognizing these limitations may make the meeting less successful, but you may still be able to get a good settlement if you play a little hard ball and don’t let yourself get distracted by difficult negotiators. Also, fortunately you don’t see too many of these.