Think about something you’re really proud of. It can be dancing, cooking, parallel parking. What if you could use that skill to upgrade to a deluxe hotel room, get a raise at work or convince your spouse to handle all of the laundry? How empowering would that feel and how often would you put that skill to great use?
Believe it or not, it’s all very possible with the help of fine-tuned negotiation skills. Negotiations are used in everyday situations, from settling a contract with a buyer to securing the exact seat you want on a train. A smart negotiation will always produce the results you want.
At work, cutting costs without compromising quality is a big challenge, and negotiations can help you achieve that for your practice or organization. You just need to have an understanding about yourself, your opponent and why you are striving for a particular outcome.
The first part of a negotiation is knowing and understanding who you are. Before you can read others, you have to truly understand what you’re bringing to the negotiating table.
The theory behind personality types is based on the work of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, and more recently Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs, who developed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Here is a simplified personality assessment based on the four key personality dimensions.
E or I – Are you an Extrovert (E) or an Introvert (I)?
How are you energized? Do you get excited or animated around others (E) or do you prefer to be on your own? (I)
N or S – Are you Intuitive (N) or Sensory (S)?
What do you focus on in your environment? Do you look at what could be (N), or do see “what is” (S)? People who fit the “N” classification are idea people, and the people who fit the “S” classification are driven by real facts and data.
T or F – Are you a Thinker (T) or a Feeler (F)?
How do you make decisions? Do you make them impersonally, with such comments as “I think” (T)? Or do you make decisions based on your own values, prefacing comments with “I feel…” (F)?
J or P – Are you Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)?
How do you choose to live? Do you keep your desk neat and tidy (J), or do you prefer to keep it more spontaneously organized and flexible (P)? People who fit the “J” classification prefer an orderly life and are happiest when matters are settled. People who fit the “P” classification prefer to be spontaneous and are happiest when their lives are more flexible.
Understanding your blind spots
Once you’ve determined your personality type and have identified your strengths, take a moment to find your blind spots. For example, if you are an “INTJ,” you are strategic, thoughtful and deliberate, competent, logical and always prepared.
The INTJ blind spots include racing past relationship building, demonstrating impatience with people who don’t see your point of view and resisting change in your decisions. These blind spots make it difficult for negotiations and could result in an unfavorable outcome.
Once you’ve determined your personality, draw a table like the one below and think about how your personality type has affected relationships with these different groups.
Recognizing personality types in others
Now that you understand yourself, what about the others at the negotiating table? One quick way to identify people’s personality types is to hone in on their job titles. The general rule of thumb is people are naturally attracted to positions and careers that fit their personality type.
Here are some occupations with their personality type:
ENFJ: recruiter, fund raiser, facilitator, psychologist, clergy, politician
INFJ: career counselor, psychologist, priest/clergy/monk/nun, designer, counselor
ENFP: reporter, marketer, social worker, pastoral counselor, legal mediator, psychologist
INFP: architect, editor, legal mediator, counselor, church worker, team building or conflict resolution consultant
ENTJ: credit investigator, stockbroker, labor relations, attorney, judge, psychologist, psychiatrist, personnel manager, office manager
INTJ: financial planner, computer systems analyst, attorney, designer
ENTP: politician, financial planner, investment banker, entrepreneur, investor, venture capitalist
INTP: pharmacist, lawyer, psychoanalyst, investigator, legal mediator
The most important way to determine personality types is to tune into what people say and do. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Tips for reading people’s personality types
1. Notice their behavior around others. Do they get excited and draw energy from others (E), or do they prefer to be on their own (I)?
2. Where do they place their focus? Do they look at what could be (N) or at what is (S)?
3. How do they make decisions? Do they preface their opinions with “I think” (T) or “I feel” (F)?
4. Do the desk test. Is their desk neat, tidy and structured (J)? Or is it more spontaneously organized and flexible (P)?
After you identify a personality type, then you need to know how to communicate with that person. Here are a few examples:
INTJ: Be brief and to the point. Acknowledge their work and thank them, especially in front of others.
ISTJ: Don’t bother them with details. Make sure you understand their current challenges and help them find solutions to solve them.
ENTP: Let them share ideas and participate in the process. Be clear about the deliverable and what you need.
ESTJ: Engage them in discussion. Let them talk about personal matters. Ask them how they can help you with your problem.
Setting the stage for success
Now that the players have been identified, here are seven steps to prepare for a negotiation.
1. Establish the context. Know what you’re going after and why. Stay focused on the objective, and don’t get drawn into an ego-match.
2. Identify needs and wants. The needs are necessary for success. The wants are improvements that build upon your needs.
3. Understand what will happen if you don’t reach an agreement. Brainstorming these outcomes could lead you to solutions you had not even considered.
4. Establish the importance of the negotiation outcome. Are you negotiating with a critical vendor whose service greatly impacts the outcome of a project? Or are you in a position where the outcome of the negotiation has little strategic impact?
5. Understand the importance of the relationship with the other party. Will you have a long-term relationship with the person you are negotiating with or is it likely to be a short-term interaction?
6. Determine the Zone of Possible Agreement (ZOPA). This is the place in which you are in agreement. You should think about this prior to your negotiation, and then try to quickly clarify it, early in your meeting.
7. Be clear on where you won’t compromise and when you will Get Up And Leave (GUAL) a negotiation. What are issues that would make you GUAL? Often it is illegal or unethical behavior, or it can be a proposal that is preposterous to your team. Think about what would make you GUAL before you enter the negotiation.
Remember, practice makes perfect. Try these techniques out in your everyday situations at work and at home. Before you know it, you’ll find you have the power to get what you need. Happy negotiating!
Michelle LaBrosse, PMP, is the founder of Cheetah Learning, and author of Cheetah Negotiations and Cheetah Project Management. The Project Management Institute, www.pmi.org, recently selected Michelle as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Project Management in the World, and only one of two women selected from the training and education industry. She is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Owner President Managers (OPM) program and also holds engineering degrees from Syracuse University and the University of Dayton. Her articles have appeared in more than 100 publications and Web sites around the world. Her monthly column, the Know How Network, is carried by more than 400 publications, and her monthly newsletter goes out to more than 50,000 people. Her radio program, Your World Your Way, is a weekly broadcast that looks at how Project Management fuels success.