A headline from yesterday’s Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School’s blog posed the question, “In negotiation, does personality matter?”
Our answer is, of course, “yes.” How we and our counterparts instinctively approach conflict impacts our ability to effectively negotiate. The psychological research generally describes three types of personality tendencies that we have found helpful for negotiators, a) competitors, b) accommodators and c) conflict avoiders.
While these categories describe general tendencies and not set characteristics and each individual can exhibit elements of each depending on the situation, you can improve your negotiation effectiveness by 1) recognizing your and your counterparts’ dominant personality tendencies and 2) negotiating style-wise in the most effective way.
For example, if you determine your counterpart is a competitor who enjoys debating substantive issues, encourage them to talk (and talk and talk…) through the use of active listening. The information you discover may give you important strategic insights.