Nonprofit leaders: Does your negotiating style affect your conversations?

“All conversations are negotiations. Whether small personal exchanges or large, complex business contracts, we are negotiating all the time,” claims author Jim Hornickel. He suggests two key questions to consider when in negotiations: “What negotiating skills do you have to work with?” and “Who are you being as you negotiate?” Equally important, what is your negotiating style and how do you interact with other styles?

Negotiating styles

Jim Hornickel revises the Golden Rule (“Treat others like you would like to be treated) in negotiations. He asserts that instead, you need to meet people where they are and use the Platinum Rule (“Treat others like they want to be treated”). In order to help you relate to others’ styles, the author provides four categories:

Doer: wants immediate results, is fast-paced and only slows down if something is in it for her, makes quick decisions, takes authority, is controlling and aggressive, wants the bottom line, is a poor listener and wants the big picture. Examples: CEO, senior manager. To negotiate with a Doer, be businesslike, prepared and efficient. Give him options for decisions that are beneficial to you.

Thinker: concentrates on detail, thinks analytically, checks accuracy, works systematically, creates diplomacy, adheres to standards and needs more time. Examples: accounting, IT, engineering, analyst. To negotiate with a Thinker, be thorough and specific, present facts and lots of detail, organize linearly and give her time to process.

Talker: socializes conversationally, generates enthusiasm, lives optimistically, acts impulsively, is easily distracted, dreams, desires motivation (can get bored easily), and gets competitive. Examples: sales, marketing, radio/TV. To negotiate with a Talker, socialize a bit, regularly recognize him and his contributions, move quickly and energetically, and encourage his creative input.

Guardian: helps others, shows loyalty, wants predictability, keeps structure, avoids conflict, appreciates precedence and predictability, and decides by consensus. Examples: police, customer service, human resources. To negotiate with a Guardian, use warm tones, present new things incrementally and safely, provide testimonials, be supportive and give her time to find consensus with others.


Now what?

Jim Hornickel places them in four quadrants that show their relationships to each other. The ones that are next to each other share some similar attributes. The ones that are opposite of each other experience more problems because they have less in common. See below.

Doer Talker
Thinker Guardian

Know your style and observe others so you can bridge the gap

Doers and Thinkers have these commonalities: task-oriented, less expressive, monotone and fewer facial expressions. Their opposites are Guardians and Talkers, who are people-oriented and more expressive. Thinkers and Guardians are easygoing, detailed, focused on “we” instead of “I” and ask questions.

Their opposites, Talkers and Doers are dominant and strong personas, move faster, tell more than they ask, are more “I”-centered, are the poorest listeners, and want the big picture and fewer details. Understanding first of all your dominant style and then finding commonalities and gaps with your fellow negotiators can help you bridge gaps. In addition, Hornickel provides strengths and weaknesses to overcome when presenting a case in each of the styles. Learn more in his book, Negotiating Success: Tips and Tools for Building Rapport and Dissolving Conflict While Still Getting What You Want, or our Page to Practice™ summary.

See other related Page to Practice™ summary titles:

Influencer: The Power to Change Anything

Let’s Stop Meeting Like This: Tools to Save Time and Get More Done

The Wisdom of Crowds

Image credits: Jim Hornickel, Wiley,

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