The two kinds of negotiators

Tell me if you have encountered one of these:

When I was working with a hard hitting real estate company I met my opposite, a win/lose negotiator. Abrupt, a bit rude and insanely high maintenance, her name was Wilma and she was simply monstrous to deal with. Opposing brokers always felt like she pushed the other side too hard, earning her the nickname of “Warhammer.” She would push and push and push until finally the other side would say, “uncle!” Want to be on the other side of her? I don’t think so.

To be honest, I used to judge her, until I realized that she was a master of a different style of negotiating.

Here is what I mean: I tend to be a win/win negotiator. I want both sides to win, and I want us to come to a fair price. When I realized that Wilma was that the win/lose negotiation in terms of style and not character, that made dealing with her a lot easy. She would push until someone said, “no.” She had to feel like she won something in a negotiation, otherwise she would keep asking for things, things that she didn’t even use or need!

What I found was that saying “no” to Wilma early and often didn’t make her search for a different marketer, it made her appreciate the one she had. See, with her type, she constantly needed to feel like she was winning, so I usually told her what she wanted was impossible. That got her attention. She realized, “oh wait, I have found my boundary,” and we almost always found a point of mutual agreement.

Compare that to another broker, Dan, who always had an extremely affable position. When he needed a big project quickly, I would just ask questions and work with openness and ease, and say what was was possible with a lot more flexibility than with Wilma.

The big lesson between these two styles? Match your partner’s style. If you encounter a win/win negotiator, be easy to deal with and show you are on both of your sides. If you encounter a win/lose negotiator, don’t give up any ground and push back on them hard until you see that they are willing to bend.

It’s simple, but it also frees us from a lot of unnecessary judgement of other negotiation styles.