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Common Conflicts and Issues with Different Personalities

By |March 11, 2024

When negotiations break down, despite your best efforts, it is likely not because of terms or price. Failure is a result of a fundamental disconnect in negotiation styles and priorities. The Black Swan Group has identified three distinct Negotiator Conflict Personality Types (NCPT) that approach the negotiation table in remarkably different ways: the Assertive, the Analyst, and the Accommodator. Each type brings a unique set of strengths and motivations that can heavily influence the direction and outcome of a negotiation.

Understanding Personality Types

  • For the Accommodator, the primary motivation is hoping to maintain strong, trusting relationships and harmony between parties. If no agreement is made, they want to know that everyone is on good terms and feels valued. Any conflict or deterioration of the interpersonal ties will distress the Accommodator. 
  • Conversely, Analysts are most compelled by gathering, analyzing, and validating the data they already have. Their principal interest is in the accuracy of facts and specifics driving key decisions or potential points of agreement. The relationship and the deal are secondary.
  • Assertives are motivated first and foremost by respect, authority, and control. Preserving their reputation, autonomy, and influence over outcomes is paramount, even if it means forgoing a deal.

Recognizing and understanding these differences between you and your counterparts is crucial for navigating personality clashes and achieving successful outcomes. Not sure how to identify your counterpart…start with what we call a warm read. Start with one of the most commonly asked questions, "How is your day?" And then Label the response.  Their response to your Label will be your first clue:

  • Assertives will let you know how they have made his or her day good or how someone else has made it bad and what they did to rectify or mitigate; 
  • Accommodators will gush about how well things are going or provide a “silver lining” to things that are not going well; usually without assigning blame.  With either, it is going to be a lengthy answer; 
  • Analysts will be quick, short, and direct; good or bad

Navigating Conflict Response Strategies

When faced with conflict during negotiations, each type tends to respond distinctively. 

Assertives view conflict as a competition and a threat to their control. They will aggressively defend their position and dominance. The Assertive is going to say, 'All right, bring it on. Let's rock and roll.' 

Analysts, on the other hand, tend to disengage when the data and reasoning of the discussion become unsound or the counterpart displays negative emotions. They will opt out rather than cope with what they perceive as irrationality. They think, 'I have neither the time nor the inclination to waste here with you. If this is the way you're going to behave,' they will check out of the conversation. 

Accommodators, who place a high value on relationships, will often assume responsibility for any breakdowns in communication. They may ask themselves, "What could I have done better? How can I repair things?" Accommodators take conflicts personally, viewing them as damaged relationships that need to be mended. They are thinking, 'What did I do? I'm the nicest person on the planet. There's no reason for them to do that. I wonder if I should apologize.'"

Want to find out your negotiator type? Take the quiz now!

Tailoring Communication Techniques

To mitigate conflicts arising from mismatched negotiation types, one effective strategy, a nuance of Tactical Empathy™, is to modify your own communication patterns to better align with your counterpart's style. When dealing with Accommodators, ask gentle, open-ended questions that draw them out and make them feel heard. Don’t underestimate their desire for “small-talk” and other friendly banter unrelated to the topic at hand.  Be careful with the use of Dynamic Silence.  Voids in the conversation can produce negative emotions for them.

On the other hand, when negotiating with Analysts, appeal to their logic by sharing unemotional, objective data. Small talk is not appealing. Dynamic Silence…they love it because it gives them time to process.

Be crisp and concise when engaging with Assertives, who prefer to focus on “winning” and making quick decisions.  They will eat up Dynamic Silence because they love to convey how smart/tough they are.  Like the Analysts…no need for small talk.

By adapting your communication style to match your counterpart's personality type, you build the foundation for a productive negotiation.

Self-awareness and Adaptation Strategies

Being aware of personality differences requires being equally self-aware of one's hot buttons and defaults going into the negotiation and when the pressure hits. One of the best ways to get ahead of potential misreads is by using an Accusation Audit™ at the beginning of the interaction. This strategic technique involves addressing the negative perceptions your counterpart may have of you before they even arise. For example, as an Analyst negotiating with an Accommodator, you might start with, "At some point during this conversation, I am going to get quiet, and you might think I am angry or disengaged. I want you to know that this is just my process, and it doesn't mean you've done anything wrong."

Adjusting one's innate inclinations demands discipline, commitment to understanding diverse perspectives, and an openness to meeting others where they stand. Accommodators, Analysts, and Assertives walk into interactions with distinct preferences, sensitivities, and reflexive reactions that shape their discourse. Making the effort to understand and adapt pays huge dividends for resolving sticky conflicts. This starts with knowing your negotiator type…your default…who you are when you get smacked in the face. Who are you when somebody's breaking into your house? Who are you when you get hit in the face with a brick? What is your initial reaction when you are being attacked?

To gain deeper insight into your own negotiation style and learn how to leverage your strengths while mitigating potential weaknesses, we encourage you to take our negotiator-type quiz. By investing in this self-discovery process, you'll be better equipped to handle the challenges of high-stakes negotiations and drive more successful outcomes for both yourself and your counterparts.

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