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Negotiation Style #5: Collaborate

Mar 5, 2021 | Blog

Not a day goes by without another “collab” between a fashion brand and the latest social media influencer. The released product may very well be overpriced, and you might not like what it stands for, but the potential gains that stem from these collaborative efforts can be enormous. Today’s fifth and final post in our series on negotiation styles will shed light on how this particular style can allow both you and your negotiation partner to meet your individual goals while also creating as much mutual value as time and resources permit.  

Collaborative negotiators are different from the others because, while keeping their own interests in mind, they are also willing to put time aside to really build and strengthen relationships with business partners. They believe that the true value of a negotiation is found when both parties win,  as it will much more likely result in innovative solutions that will eventually benefit both sides. These negotiators often evolve from other styles, as they gradually learn to become more patient and confident over time and develop the skills required to advocate for themselves and still reach agreements with other parties. If the situation calls for it, however, collaborative negotiators can switch back to their original style, making them highly adaptable and a favored type of negotiator amongst organizations.  

Applicable Scenarios  

Aside from it being the go-to style that you should strive for in most business negotiations, there’s more to collaboration than just the ‘win-win’ endgame. It also helps you to read your opponent and gain a better understanding of their true intentions and motivations by emphasizing the intricacies of relationship-building. If they’re not true to their word or operating under false pretences, a good collaborative negotiator will pick up on it and move to protect its own reputation and interests. Also,  when the stakes of a negotiation are high, the collaborative style will show your opponents that you are willing to invest in a trusting partnership and stay committed to a mutually beneficial outcome.  

Risks and Vulnerabilities  

All too often, though, negotiators are too accommodating, too compromising, or just under too much time pressure to go down the collaborative route. When this is the case and you happen to find yourself opposite a competitive-style negotiator, you’ll most likely lose out and see them claim more than their fair share.  

If you are a collaborative negotiator and still decide to deal with a competitive opponent, we urge you to be cautious. It is not in their nature to develop a relationship, let alone one that is beneficial to you both. Keep an eye on the total value of the agreement and make sure that the other party abides by your mutually agreed-upon rules of collaborative negotiation.  

If your opponent’s competitiveness does become an issue, treat them in a transactional manner by  making sure that you’re trading for at least something of equal value. The same goes for the  exchange of information: do not overshare in terms of detail and depth. As long as you match your  opponent, the risk of being exploited will be kept to a minimum.  

Finally, to successfully collaborate, you need to be negotiating with a party that possesses the right amount of power and authority, and can afford the time necessary to invest in your relationship. If you come to find that this is not the case, save your energy and consider finding someone higher up the chain of management who shares your willingness to collaborate.  

Safeguards  

On the rare occasion that you’re confronted with a collaborative style negotiator and you are for whatever reason incapable or unwilling to reciprocate, make sure to communicate this directly to your opponent. You might not have sufficient time or resources to spend on nurturing a long-term partnership, or you simply fail to see what value the other party could possibly bring to the table.  There’s nothing wrong with saying ‘no’.  

Recap and Conclusion  

Our goal for the past five weeks was to provide you with a short but comprehensive overview of the five styles that are most common in negotiations. We certainly won’t deny that some of these styles make a lot more sense than others (avoid?!) and you might very well still have questions that are left unanswered. However, we hope that you’ve managed to pick up on at least a handful of new insights into the workings of negotiations. Key is to remember that they are dynamic processes that can often be unpredictable. Refrain from picking just one style and holding on to it for dear life. The strength of these different approaches lies with your ability to judge each ‘play’ and to select the style that is best suited to that specific situation. Practice makes perfect, and while you do, we at  IntelleXt will continue to bring you more content on how to negotiate even more effectively.

Fengwei David An
Written by Fengwei David An

Fengwei David An is IntelleXt’s Game Theory & Analytics Research Manager. He has extensive knowledge and practical experience in decision-making processes, negotiations, and compliance through his work in public as well as in private enterprises.

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