5 Negotiation Conflict Styles in Business


Negotiation is one of the most common approaches used to make decisions and manage disputes. Negotiation occurs between spouses, parents and children, managers and staff, employers and employees, professionals and clients, within and between organizations and between agencies and the public. Negotiation is a problem-solving process in which two or more people voluntarily discuss their differences and attempt to reach a joint decision on their common concern. It is to identify issues about which they differ, educate each other about needs and interests, generate possible settlement options and bargain over the terms of the final agreement. Small business owners are likely to face negotiations on a daily basis when dealing with customers, suppliers, employees, investors, creditors, government agencies and even family members. Many companies train members of their sales forces in negotiation techniques and many others hire professional negotiators to represent them in business dealings.


Negotiation is the part of understanding how to be a Negotiation PRO, to manage conflict and how to get what we want. Our approach to conflict resolution is influenced by a competitive ‘win/lose’ approach when what we need to foster successful long-term relationships is a way to create ‘win/win’ outcomes. Another way to view Negotiation is that it is a basic means of getting what you want from others. According to Webster’s Dictionary, negotiation means (1) to deal or barter with another or others, as in the preparation of a contract or agreement (2) to arrange for or bring about by discussion and settlement of terms. Negotiators often fall into one or more of these five styles whether they are trying to reach an agreement or resolve a conflict with multiple parties. Master negotiators know how to use their primary negotiation style to their advantage and when it’s beneficial to introduce the others. Read on to learn about the common characteristics of the five negotiation styles, their strengths, and their weaknesses.

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1. Competitive Negotiator (I win, you lose)

This model of negotiation style “I win, you lose” competes with each other. Competitive negotiators tend to do whatever it takes to reach their desired agreement – even when it comes at the expense of another person or entity. The negotiators here do not border whether others are affected or not in the negotiating process. For instance, most employers will want to dominate prospective employees during the negotiation of salary packages at the interviews. Also, the seller of goods will have the mind to dominate the buyers of goods/products during the negotiation and verse versa. Competitive negotiators are results-oriented and focused on achieving short-term goals quickly.

Competitive negotiators use all tools possible to boost their negotiation success. A competitive negotiation style has value when you need to reach a short-term agreement as quickly as you want. If the terms of an agreement are critical and must be complied with, a competitive negotiator will be your secret weapon. Competitive negotiators work best in a highly competitive industry such as selling goods like a home or a car. However, for negotiations with another highly competitive body, it is best to blend negotiation styles to avoid gridlock between two competitive negotiators.

These negotiators mostly focus more on winning than reaching a mutually agreement with the other party. If care is not taken, business relationships might break, and a company’s reputation may tarnish if a negotiation style is too competitive and crosses the line into bullying. Competitive negotiators are advised to blend your style with a bit of accommodation or collaboration in order to reach a useful compromise. Make sure you invite a partner to balance out your natural competitive streak and build a business relationship because the usefulness of entering into negotiation is as much about business building strong relationships as it is about closing deals!

2. Avoiding Negotiator (I lose, you lose)

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This negotiation style follows “I lose, you lose” model. The negotiator here is deceitful and cunning. Avoiding negotiators highly dislike conflict and tend to talk in vague terms about the issue at hand rather than the issue itself. Negotiators here will avoid losing during negotiations. He/she will say, “instead of me to lose and you to win, let both of us lose.” For instance, there was a case of interview between some employees and employer in a great company. Two top management officers presented two candidates to occupy the position. None of them wants to step down for another and eventually, the board concluded to invite the neutral person to take the position. Unfortunately, both top management officers prefer to lose instead of one to win and other to lose in the negotiation. Since avoiding negotiators dislike conflict and struggle with direct communication, they come off as passive-aggressive. This can cause rifts in interpersonal business relationships. Avoidance is a typical reaction when a negotiator is pitted against someone who is highly competitive.

3. Compromising Negotiator (I win, I lose some; you win, you lose some)

The compromising negotiation style follows a “I win/lose some, you win/lose some” model when reaching the terms of the agreement, compromisers often relinquish some terms in favour of gaining others. The negotiator here says ‘Let me compromise some and you compromise some so that we can balance the issues. For example, if two businesses are trying to reach a security agreement, a compromising negotiator might give the other business greater access to their business method of security to gain protections for digital media trade. Simply, compromisers split the agreement’s value between the two parties versus finding a solution so that everyone benefits from an agreement’s full value. A competitive negotiator can easily take advantage of a compromising negotiator. When you are dealing with a person on trust, you can shift a grand to compromise a little in order because the interest of the negotiators is to win.

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4. Accommodating Negotiator (I lose, you win)

An accommodating negotiator seems hypocritical. The model follows the “I lose, you win”. It does not seem to be in a negotiator’s best interest. Accommodating negotiators are the direct opposite of competitive negotiators. They focus on preserving relationships and building a friendly rapport by sacrificing some of their company’s interests in favour of the opposite party’s interests. For example, the employer of a company may allow his/her employees to achieve their interest of salary’s increment, benefits of the jobs, job security, etc. during negotiations. Accommodating negotiator tends to win people over by giving in to their requests. They tend to share more information than they should. But it is dangerous to send a pure accommodator alone to a negotiation with a competitive body because he/she can easily be taken advantage of. As time goes on, an accommodating style may easily progress into a collaborative style with proper training and teamwork.

5. Collaborating Negotiator (I win, you win)

This style follows the “I win, you win” model. It seems to be the best among other negotiation styles. Collaborative negotiators focus on making sure all parties have their needs met in an agreement. The style strengthens, establishes, and builds relationships without compromising their company’s best interests. This negotiator believes in reaching agreement amicably. For example, the government and Labour Union may enter into negotiation about the increment of salaries and other benefits to reach an agreement amicably about issue.


If collaborative negotiators’ evolvement into this negotiation style from another gain confidence in reaching agreements, they will become more comfortable advocating their needs. They also become skilled in finding a mutually beneficial balance between their needs and the other party’s. A collaborative negotiation style is effective in most business negotiations.

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