Negotiation Techniques

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Negotiation Techniques

Negotiation Techniques

In the previous lesson we talked about negotiating boundaries. Here we'll address techniques and best practices for negotiation.

There are three parts of negotiation:

  1. Process, or how negotiation takes place. The process of negotiation is three-fold:
    1. Preparation.
    2. Negotiation.
    3. Conclusion.
  2. Behavior, including the relationship of the individuals.
  3. Substance, or what is being negotiated.


When entering into a conversation to talk about sensitive issues it is essential to be prepared. The more you know ahead of time, the better you can handle adversity.

Process: Know Your Resources

Think ahead about what alternative options are available should negotiations fail. Should an agreement not be reached with the difficult person, know in advance:

  1. What alternative solutions might fulfill the needs.
  2. What other steps can be taken.
  3. What policies, laws, and constraints regulate the situation.
  4. Who is available to offer support.

Process: Motivation

If possible, find out in advance what the other person's goal and underlying motivation are. Often, particularly with difficult personalities, what is said on the surface is only a part of what is desired.

Confrontation is more successful when the other person's motivation is understood and can be satisfied. If his or her motivation is:

  1. To improve the situation, negotiations will focus on change.
  2. Self-preservation, exhibited as a fear of change, negotiations will focus on the assurance that no harm will result.
  3. Self-promotion, negotiations will focus on the other person's worth.

Process: Conclusion

At the end of the negotiation, there are two essential action steps to be taken:

  1. A verbal summary within the meeting reiterating everything that was agreed upon.
  2. A written summary sent to all interested parties.

The written recapitulation will insure all parties are in agreement and will form documentation should it be needed.


Behavior includes:

  1. Words.
  2. Actions.
  3. Relationship between the parties.

The use of each of these in negotiations is deeply influenced by personality and emotion.

Behavior: Negotiation Styles

Most people fall into one of five negotiating styles, and unless a person is a trained negotiator, these styles relate closely to his or her personality. Understanding one's self and the other party can be a tool in negotiations. The five styles are described here:

  1. The accommodating person:
    1. Is aware of other people's emotional states and non-verbal communication.
    2. Enjoys helping other people.
    3. Places value on relationships.
    4. Tends to be emotionally sensitive.
  2. The avoiding person:
    1. Doesn't like conflict or negotiations.
    2. Avoids confrontation, making it hard to get a commitment from him or her.
  3. Difficult people are rarely collaborators. The collaborating person:
    1. Finds pleasure in working with others.
    2. Enjoys solving problems.
    3. Is good at brainstorming.
  4. The competing person:
    1. Negotiates to win.
    2. Is often a good negotiator.
    3. May be heartless in his or her negotiations.
  5. The compromising person:
    1. Is eager to get the job done.
    2. Rushes the process and thus make concessions easily.
    3. Is eager to find what is equitable for both parties.

Behavior: Emotion in Negotiations

Emotions play a powerful role in negotiation. The decision to agree is in part dependent on emotional factors.

Positive emotions often facilitate the agreement process and help maximize gains for both parties. A positive emotional effect:

  1. Increases confidence.
  2. Produces a tendency to cooperate.
  3. Increases the pleasure associated with the interactions.
  4. Reduces contentious behavior and aggressive tactics.
  5. Supports better decision making processes, including:
    1. More flexible thinking.
    2. Creative problem solving.
    3. A respect for others' perspectives.
    4. A willingness to take calculated risks.

Negative emotions can trigger intense and even irrational behavior, particularly in people who are predisposed to behave irrationally. Negative emotions can escalate conflict. A Negative emotional affect:

  1. Increases the use of competitive strategies.
  2. Reduces cooperation.
  3. Decreases the level of trust.
  4. Negatively affects judgment by:
    1. Narrowing the focus of attention.
    2. Changing the goal from agreement to retaliating.
    3. Increasing the likelihood of errors.
    4. Triggers self-centeredness.
    5. Increases the probability of rejecting profitable offers.


Substance includes the desired goal and any related logistics. Many of these related factors are nonessential, and may be compromised during negotiations.

Depending on the circumstance, these may include the:

  1. Who
  2. What
  3. When
  4. Where
  5. How

To know what can or cannot be compromised, one must understand the needs of both parties and be willing to sacrifice the non-essentials for the sake of the goal.

Substance: Understand Everyone's Needs

Negotiations should provide opportunity for both parties to fully present their desired outcomes and to fully understand each other's outcomes. To reach this point:

  1. Invite the other party to present:
    1. Information.
    2. Ideas.
    3. Positions.
  2. Formulate the solution so that it includes the issues presented by both parties whenever possible.
  3. Consider what can be traded so both parties feel they are receiving benefit.
  4. Explore alternative outcomes acceptable to both parties. For example, a situation in which a person delivering reports disrupts the workflow and demeans staff may be resolved by:
    1. Training in communication skills and attitude control.
    2. Delivering the reports through a different person, thus avoiding the negative interactions with the staff.

Substance: Win-win or Win-lose

A successful agreement is not one which achieves great results for one party. A successful agreement:

  1. Achieves good results.
  2. Maintains a working relationship with the other party.
  3. Leaves an open door for future negotiations if the end result was less than the desired result.

In a win-lose situation, particularly with a difficult personality, the other party will fulfill their part:

  1. Uncooperatively.
  2. Legalistically.

A win-lose agreement should only be considered is when there is no future relationship with the other party.


This tutorial is based on Webucator's Working with Difficult People Course. We also offer many other Business Management Training courses. Sign up today to get help from a live instructor.