New research by Montreal-based PsycheTests.com on the negotiation styles of people who spend their day debating, bargaining, and mediating the best deal possible reveals that negotiation styles can vary from the diplomatic and friendly to tactical warfare.
Since human resources professionals do a lot of negotiating, from schmoozing top candidates or negotiating a raise with an employee who refuses to budge an inch, they know that negotiating is a sophisticated and complex skill.
It's all in the approach, according to a press release from PsychTests.com. And this approach depends on many factors, including who you're negotiating with, whether your relationship with this person has to stay on good terms, and how much you're willing to lose in order to win.
PsychTests.com assessed 750 people for whom negotiating is a major part of their job. Four top negotiating styles emerged from this sample:
But dirty dealing and intimidation, at least in most negotiations, isn't a tactic that will fly anymore.
- The Diplomat: The top style for 48 percent of negotiators. Diplomats are highly-skilled negotiators who can adapt to any situation or opponent. They are often sharp-witted and extremely good at building a rapport with others. Their level-headedness and good emotional control gives them an edge when dealing with even the most difficult people. Traits that stood out for the Diplomats: Good social skills, empathy, and problem solving ability; they possess a lot of integrity and approach negotiations objectively.
- The Tactician: 36 percent of negotiators had this style. These are "by the book" negotiators who always come into a negotiation well prepared. They delve deep and ask all the right questions to gain the information they need to break down the other parties' argument or build up their own. Traits that stood out for the Tacticians: Good memory, empathy, perspective, and integrity. Compared to Diplomats, however, they are much edgier and less personable. Their empathy allows them to read you like a book--their edge keeps them cool and calculated ... and lets you know that neither intimidation nor charm will sidetrack them.
- The Peacekeeper: The third most popular style, at 9 percent. People with this type have a knack for gaining people's trust and building a strong rapport with them. They make every effort to understand their opponent's needs and do whatever they can to ensure fairness and integrity. They may not always make headway against aggressive negotiators, but could potentially win some over with their charm and exceptional interpersonal skills. Traits that stood out for Peacekeepers: Good social skills, empathy, and amazing powers of persuasion.
- The Placater: The fourth most popular style, at 7 percent. Hard-hitting, high-stake negotiations are not their strength, as they often tend to lack the assertiveness to go up against tougher negotiators. They're more likely to placate opponents, because it's not so much about winning as it is losing as little as possible. In terms of skills, they may not be as advanced as the Diplomats or Tacticians, but could hold their own in less intense negotiations, where everyone is on friendly terms. Although Placaters in PsychTests' sample do show a bit of a feisty side, and are not totally opposed to throwing in a few dirty tactics once in a while.
"These days, if you try to push and demand a lot, but refuse to give anything in return, you're not going to make it far," explains Dr. Ilona Jerabek, president of company. "You'll probably end up with a stalemate, or your opponent will simply get up and walk out the door. There has to be some give and take in negotiation, a win-win solution, and this is what top negotiators are able to do. Although some less then scrupulous tactics may be thrown around sometimes, no one in our sample of negotiators was an all-out 'hoodwinker'".
In terms of gender differences between male and female negotiators, PsychTests did discover a few distinct differences. Men tended to be a little more persuasive and actually showed slightly better communication skills. Women, however, made integrity a top priority.
"It's all about people skills in the negotiating world," concludes Dr. Jerabek. Good social insight, persuasion, and the ability to problem solve and resolve conflict. You have to treat the other person fairly and honestly. This is where top negotiators separated themselves from the rest of the population."
A summary document with basic reliability and validity information is available free of charge.
HR managers interested in using the Negotiation Style Test or other pre-employment tests should go to http://www.archprofile.com/corporate/index.