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What Style Of Negotiator Are You?

by Nancy Hudgins
December 2010

From the blog of Nancy Hudgins

Nancy  Hudgins
Are you:

Problem solving?

Being aware of your negotiating style can help inform your negotiating strategy.

Barry Goldman, a Michigan mediator, has a series of examples of negotiating styles in his book, The Science of Settlement: Ideas for Negotiators. Here’s a simple test from his book:

          "Imagine you and a friend are playing a game. No money
          is at stake; you’re just playing for fun. You will play the
          game five times. What win-loss-tie outcome would you
          prefer for yourself?

                              5 -- 0 -- 0

                              3 -- 2 -- 0

                              2 -- 2 -- 1"

As you can imagine, competitors like the first outcome and compromisers lean towards the last.

G. Richard Shell, professor of legal studies at the Wharton School, thinks that the consideration of negotiating styles is seminal. He designates it as the first of his “six foundations of effective negotiation” in his book, Bargaining for Advantage.

It’s important to know your own style because you’ll know what your predisposition (or even default thinking) is and you can intentionally account for it. It’s also helpful to know the other side’s style, so that you can adjust your strategy accordingly.


Nancy Hudgins, a San Francisco mediator and lawyer, began specializing in civil litigation in the 1970's. She has represented both plaintiffs and defendants, chiefly in personal injury, medical malpractice, elder abuse and product liability lawsuits, but also in a wide variety of complex litigation, including civil rights, fraud and class actions. She has settled and mediated thousands of cases. In addition to civil litigation mediation, she also co-mediates divorces with John Duda, a marriage and family therapist.

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