What Type of Negotiation Are You Walking Into?

    

At a high level, The Black Swan Group believes that all negotiations are the same. Whenever you find yourself in a negotiation, regardless of the circumstances:

  • You and your counterpart will both need something from each other. 
  • Both of you will also need to manage negative emotions. 
  • You’re going to look like a threat when the negotiation gets started.
  • Ultimately, you want to get to a place where your counterpart is solving problems for you.

These concepts apply to every single negotiation. 

Three Possible Types of Negotiations

two men shaking hands after a negotiation

Although all negotiations have the same characteristics, there are common types of negotiations you’ll encounter time and time again. Some of these occur when you’re:

  1. You’re delivering bad news.
  2. You’re trying to build trust and rapport.
  3. You’re dealing with an attack.

Depending on how the conversation goes, you might move between all three of these types of negotiations during a single conversation.

For the most part, identifying which of these types of negotiations you’re walking into should be self-explanatory. 

If it’s your first time meeting the other side, you’re probably gathering information and trying to build trust and rapport. If you need to make an ask—whether it’s for more money or more time—you’re delivering bad news. And if something went wrong during the negotiation and your counterpart is chewing your ear off, you’re dealing with an attack.

How to Approach These Types of Negotiation 

The approach to these three negotiation types will have some similarities and differences. No matter which negotiation you find yourself facing, lean into an Accusation Audit™ (AA™) to knock out the negatives.

If you’re delivering bad news, it’s easy to come up with your AAs. Keep in mind that any discussion of price or making an ask of any kind is considered bad news in The Black Swan Method™. Even if your price point is lower than everyone else’s, that’s still bad news. The other side will start wondering why your price is so low.

However, when you know you’re delivering bad news and the other side will likely have a poor reaction to the numbers, you might kick off a discussion about price like this: This is probably going to come as a surprise to you. I imagine your immediate pushback is going to be, “This is not in our budget this year.” 

When you’re trying to build trust and rapport, try creating an AA with some Proof of Life™ questions to find out if you’re the favorite or the fool: You guys have a lot of people you can work with, you’re big in the industry, I’m sure the vendor line of companies trying to work with you goes around the block. Why us? Hopefully, they make the sale for you: Your product is changing the industry, your track record is impressive, and you have the best engineering talent in the country.

When you find yourself receiving bad news, you need to provide a Summary™ of everything your counterpart says, to the point they have no choice but to reply with the two magic words: “That’s Right”™! Should you find yourself wondering whether it makes sense to move forward with your counterpart, use an I Message™ to set some boundaries: We’re either going to continue to do business and do business the way that works for us or we’re not going to do business at all.  

Lean on Labels™ and Mirrors™  

After you’ve finished up your AAs, Proof of Life questions, and Summaries, it’s time to put your active listening skills to use, give your counterpart the floor, and then Label and Mirror everything they say. In 99 out of 100 instances, Labels and Mirrors are the perfect tools for digging deeper and uncovering more information.

That said, your response should be governed by the type of negotiator you find on the other side of the table. For example, if your counterpart is staring at you in silence, they are likely an Analyst. Break the silence like this: It sounds like you’re gathering your thoughts. It seems like you’re contemplating what you want to say next or where you want the conversation to go. This will spark a conversation regardless of whether you’re talking to a business colleague or the president.

If your counterpart responds aggressively or bashes you, they are likely an Assertive, and you haven’t done your part to diffuse them. You have to adjust your approach to help this negotiator type think things through. Once again, Labels and Mirrors can be helpful here.

And if you’re dealing with an Accommodator, you might find that they are acting evasive or lying. In that scenario, you need to recognize that they perceive you as a threat. Remember that it’s not all about you. Put yourself in their shoes, use Labels and Mirrors to convey your Tactical Empathy™, and make it rain. 

Now that you have a better understanding of three of the more common types of negotiations you might find yourself in, it’s time to learn more about who’s sitting across the table from you. Check out our guide on the 3 negotiator types.

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Brandon Voss

About The Author

Brandon Voss is the President of The Black Swan Group. Brandon has been instrumental in adapting the FBI’s hostage negotiation techniques to the business world. In addition to training clients, Brandon has guest lectured at USC Marshall School of Business and Georgetown McDonough School of Business.