Success Negotiating: How to Get to Yes Without Playing Games

For many people, negotiating is an unpleasant part of the job. They go into a negotiation with a mental wall around themselves, sort of like a barrier, and wish they could find a way to negotiate that was both strong and firm, yet creative. They struggle to state what they want and still be seen as a partner.

Fortunately, negotiations don’t need to be about traps or games. In fact, they should be a time to build relationships and speak honestly and directly with the other party. Even if it is a one-time negotiation, you don’t need to use tricky lines or ploys to get what you want. The fact is that most people are flexible if they believe you perceive them as knowledgeable, honest, and able to make a deal.

Before every negotiation, it’s important to keep the following points in mind:

1. Have a game plan or strategy.

If you go into a negotiation without a game plan, you have no idea where to be flexible, when to give, or how to state your point. A game plan or strategy is just that—a starting point. It is not a rigid rulebook you need to follow in the negotiation. Remember, the other party has feelings just like you do, and if their buttons are pushed and they feel backed in a corner, they will react by striking back.

2. What you think ahead of time determines what you will get at the table.

Most people go into negotiations thinking either “I have to win at all costs. I don’t want to look stupid. I have done my homework and I know what meeting space and food cost. I am not going to be taken advantage of,” or, “Please, please, just be reasonable and give me the space and food without a hassle. I really don’t want to fight you over this.”

Both these mindsets pose problems. Each one demonstrates faith in self, but not in the other party. That immediately puts the negotiation at a disadvantage. If you believe the other party will try to take advantage of you, then you lose your biggest edge—the perception that they will do anything they can to help you. Since most people can detect whether you believe in the best or worst of them, they will live up to either expectation.

3. Know the other party’s personality type and how it affects their negotiation style.

Not every person negotiates from the same point of view. Each person has a different stake in a negotiation and different concerns about the impending deal. In addition to knowing the other party’s negotiation style, you also need to know your own style so you can be prepared for the challenges that may present themselves. Most people negotiate in the style they are most comfortable with, and they try to bring the other party around to their way of thinking. This doesn’t work. To illustrate why, let’s briefly run through the four personality styles and how they negotiate. (Note: use the following information as a guideline—not absolute truths. The purpose is not to box people in or simplify things too much. This information is an overview only.)

The Connecter

Personality: Connectors are down to earth, warm, friendly, and caring. They are very people oriented and want you to like them.

How to spot them: Connectors usually have very open body language, are congenial, have a nicely decorated office with family photos and plants, and are neatly dressed and friendly. They will focus on you during the negotiation.

Hot button: Their hot button is stability, and they get it through personal courtesies. Connectors will offer you coffee, ask if the room is all right, and make sure you are comfortable during the negotiation. Atmosphere and style will be most important in connecting with these people.

Negotiating Style: Connectors often have a hard time with conflict and tend to crumble under pressure. They hate to feel used or unimportant. If you don’t say hello, if you cut people off, if you become snide or pushy, you will lose in this negotiation. Connectors want to connect with you personally. The more they like you and the better you make them feel, the more flexible they become.

How to best interact with them: Be open and honest and start with some small talk. Get to know them personally. Don’t try to run right into the negotiation. Be open when they aren’t meeting your needs, but don’t be accusatory. For example, if the room rate is high, be straightforward and say, “That is quite a bit more than I planned on. I realize you are a very reputable hotel and I would love to be able to work with you. What can we creatively do to get that rate down?” Get them thinking about ways to help you.

Watch out for: Connectors often don’t tell you what they are really thinking. Since they don’t like conflict, they will tend to keep strong disagreements or key points to themselves. They will often end with a “we’ll get back to you,” but you will never hear from them again. They can often harbor a grudge if they feel you belittled them or ran over them.

The Networker

Personality: Networkers desire fun, excitement, and applause. They like to win arguments and don’t like negative people. They also prefer the big picture, and they are usually not good at details.

How to spot them: Their office will be decorated with pictures of trips, fun events, and family. They will be congenial and friendly and may spend 70% of the negotiation doing small talk. Over the phone, they will be chatty and make you feel connected right away. They will often jump around in their conversation with you.

Hot button: Their hot button is recognition, and they get this by being people oriented. They are great at networking and are usually well connected in their industry and company.

Negotiating Style: They will negotiate from their gut and it will be based on how they feel about you. The more they like and trust you the more flexible they will be. If you go into too many details or try to get them on nitty gritty points, they will shut down. Remember, they like the big picture, so hit on your key points first and then bundle your small points together. For example, to connect with a Networker you may say, “So we are in agreement that we can get the ballroom along with four meeting rooms for xyz price for our event. Great. Can the details of what we need for food, room set up, and equipment be bundled in that price also? I imagine we will need….(here give an overview of what you will need).”

How to best interact with them: Even when you are asking them to make tough decisions, you need to point out why it is better to make this difficult decision now rather than later. You might say something like, “I realize that it may seem as if I am asking you for a lot. And in fact, I am. There is also a lot of value in putting this together as we have lain out. First, it gives you a guarantee fill of rooms with an association that has been around for 20 years. Second, most of the people attending are from large Fortune 500 companies, and this gives you marketing exposure to all of those companies without you having to spend any advertising money. Third, if everything goes well, I will be happy to write a recommendation letter that you can use with other prospects to show your company’s skill in coordinating a large event.” Notice how many times this hits on the recognition button. This is how you close the deal with a Networker.

Watch out for: Networkers like to close the deal on the spot. Since they are not usually good at details, they are not your best contact once the negotiation is done. You want to leave with the name of someone you can contact to follow up on all the details. You also want to get everything in writing immediately, as Networkers can often change their mind or plain forget what they already agreed to. And remember, since their hot button is recognition, show them how this negotiation will benefit them and their company.

The Producer

Personality: Producers are probably the best known and most feared style for negotiation. Producers are direct, to the point, goal oriented, and often in a hurry. They think fast, move fast, and talk fast. Over the phone, they will be abrupt, cut to the chase and they might even interrupt you.

How to spot them: Their office is usually neat with several strong stamps of personality—golf trophies, work trophies, elegant pictures, or statues. They usually dress with a presence or force. They don’t walk into a room; they stride into a room and offer a strong handshake. They make great eye contact and can almost seem like they bore into you.

Hot button: Their hot button is power, and they get it through control. Producers often have an organizer and are very efficient and busy. Time is of essence to them.

Negotiating Style: They tend to shoot straight and not mince words. They want you to give the big picture, and they will rapid-fire questions at you to get the answer. They want the best deal possible and pride themselves on their ability to get what they want or need. They often enjoy the game of negotiating as it stimulates their intellect. They thrive in a negotiation.

How to best interact with them: The good news is that you do not need to be mincemeat with Producers. They are usually not out to eat you up, but they are out to get a good deal. So realize that this is the one personality style that will not usually take the first deal offered. If you offer them your best deal and refuse to budge, it is like taking candy from a baby. They love the thrill of the negotiation, and you disappoint them when you don’t even let them use their skill. So offer a good deal, but be prepared to make small concessions. Let them talk first. And if you feel boxed in, be direct about it. For example, you may say, “Look, we both want what is best for our companies and that is why we are here. I also realize that neither of us wants to take advantage of the other person. So share with me, why, if you were me, you would take the deal you just offered.” Make them think from your perspective. They will enjoy the challenge and will often chuckle or back down. Why? Because they would never want anyone to make a fool of them, and once you ask them to tell you why they would take the deal if they were you, they won’t want to screw themselves and therefore will be honest.

Watch out for: If you are a Connector, then a Producer will be the hardest style for you to negotiate with. Producers will give up personal courtesies (what is most important to a Connector) in order to get to the bottom line. They are there to make a deal first and a relationship second. Be open, direct, and call them on their bluffs in a friendly way. You don’t have to punch back.

The Analyzer

Personality: Analyzers tend to be straightforward, desire accuracy, and want the details before the big picture. They generally don’t like a lot of chitchat. They want to get to the meat of the discussion.

How to spot them: Their office is often bare of any personal touches, but it has stacks of data and information. Over the phone this style tends to talk slower, even keeled, and without much variation. They will often give long pauses on the phone. They often have a large body space and remain more non-emotional during a negotiation.

Hot button: Their hot button is accuracy, and they get this by data. They want to make sure all the facts are in place and they don’t like fluffy negotiations.

Negotiating Style: Broad general sweeping statements annoy Analyzers. Give them the facts. They will read whatever you give them. They do not like to finalize a negotiation on the spot. Instead, they like to mull it over and give you an answer by e-mail, letter or phone. They need space in order to make a decision.

How to best interact with them: In a negotiation if you try to strong arm them or generalize too much you will lose. Remember, accuracy is most important to these people. They want facts, figures, and yes, it does matter if you need 50 sleeping rooms compared to 52. Come into the negotiation armed with as much factual information as possible. If you don’t have it, tell them that up front. Say, “I realize that you would probably like more information than I actually have on me today. So what I recommend we do is first find out if we are in the same ball park to look at speaking further about having our event here.” Then give them the facts you do have and let them proceed from there. If you end up working with them, always have your information ready before you call them. And try to send all details for the event up front, typed out on one sheet for them.

Watch out for: Analyzers will often move to what could go wrong and seem to make mountains out of molehills. Actually, they are just trying to be accurate. You need to appreciate that accuracy and that you are willing to take those risks. Or you need to help them downplay the risk and focus on the positive. Once you start looking for the personality styles you will be able to easily spot them. And once you stop worrying about you and start focusing on what the other person needs, negotiations become less about winning and more about connecting.

4. Add value to the other person.

Before you can add value, you must be able to read the other person’s personality style and speak from their perspective. If you ignore their hot button or try to pull them to your style of communication, you are missing the key point of negotiation—the ability to think creatively with another person in order to come to the best solution. You need to phrase everything you say in alignment with that person’s hot button, not yours. This is the emotional side of the negotiation and the perceived value to the other party.

Successful negotiators always have a game plan and are flexible with it. They also know how to read the other person so they can add value by speaking from the other person’s perspective. Keep in mind that negotiations are really “brainstorming sessions” with another party.

Whenever you’re faced with a negotiation, use these techniques to work better with others. You’ll work towards a solution while keeping in mind the other party’s hot button and their desires. Above all else, don’t try to push people into something. Be firm, be fair, and most of all, be creative!

As the leading Outcome Strategist, Anne Warfield shows people how to say the right thing at the right time every time.  The revolutionary Outcome Focus® Approach shows how to build a candid corporate culture of communication that allows you to lead, present and negotiate transformationally rather than transactionally. When applying Outcome Thinking® our client’s results include sales cycles reducing by 75%, turnover reducing by 30%, silos evaporating, and a 25% savings of time by executives.  Find out how you can maximize your corporate culture for greater productivity and results!  Contact us at 888-imp-9421, visit,  or