How To Identify Your Leadership Negotiation Role

How to get what we want? Isn’t that a magical question? In almost any situation you can think of, human beings have to figure out ways to get other people to give us what we want. Some times we can simply ask for it. Other times we can pay for it. Some of the most challenging times are when we have to negotiate for it.

What’s our Default? We all have a default style of conflict resolution which may be based in our family history, our previous work, our behavior and experiences bad and good. If we look back over our life history in all these areas, we can usually locate our default negotiating role and style. If not, simply play a nice board game with someone. Typically over the course of the game, negotiating styles come out.

Here are a few of the most common roles/styles people play in negotiation:

Dominant. If I am a high dominant style person and there has to be a winner or a loser, I will be the winner at all costs, sacrificing our relationship and all other things. I will stop at nothing to win or will lose everything attempting to win. I will also have a deep fear of the other side gaining an advantage on me in some way or coming out of the deal in better shape, so I might sabotage the whole thing rather than trust myself or others to be fair with me.

Collaborator. If I like to collaborate, then I believe if I am creative enough, I can find a way for both of us to get what we want and reach our goals successfully. This is typically seen as a win/win approach to negotiation. Most experts agree this is the best form of negotiation, if we are both working together to grow the pie we are fighting over, there will be more pie for everyone.

Accomodator. If I am more of an accommodator, then I will do whatever I need to do to make the relationship work, and I will make everything else, including my goals a low priority to settle a negotiation.

Avoider. I just want to find a way around all of this. I am very intimidated by the entire situation and the other person. I am likely to just give up, keep my head down and do nothing.

Compromiser. I approach the situation thinking we will both give something up or bend on our wants or needs. Sacrifice is the key to my way of negotiation. I believe through compromise, we will all gain more than we will lose together. This is typically seen as a good approach to negotiating. You don’t necessarily want to come to the table and up something, but if you have something of value to the other person, but not as much value to you, this can be effective. Never compromise something important to you like a Core Value, etc.


Knowing yourself as always is key to negotiation. If you are a dominant type, everything to you is important, you will not want to give up anything by your very nature. I once worked with a dominant negotiator and his idea of a negotiation was he told you what he wanted and you gave it to him. Not much wiggle room there, is there? Accomodators and Avoiders want to keep the peace so badly, and get along so deeply, that you will not approach other goals of yours which will only lead to frustration and unhappiness in the long term in your negotiations.

Self-analysis questions:

What role do you think is your default role? What role are you most comfortable playing in a negotiation? What situations can you think of where you played one of these roles and what was the outcome? Was it a positive or negative outcome? What would you do differently?

What can you add to my thoughts today?

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