What Type of Negotiator are You?

19 Mar

Projects are a series of interconnected activities that all have the same goal in mind and as a project manager, you will have to act as negotiators often and for a numerous of reasons.  Most project negotiations fall into four categories: timeline, resources, scope and budget.  There are two types of negotiators: black & white and grayscale.

Black & White Negotiators:

  • Have a predetermined figure or an offer and will not budge on either side
  • It is either their way or the highway
  • Either-Or Personality
  • Usually very direct, impatient, or even stubborn
  • Extremely focused on the end result
  • Less people-friendly
  • Great negotiators in a project that has a fixed budget and no room for expandability

Grayscale Negotiators:

  • Flexible, as they try to not preempt the fate of negotiations and aim to balance the scale somewhat
  • Type of people that can influence others
  • More people, social-oriented
  • Ability to read the situation, estimate on the fly whether the deal is good for both parties, and persuade the opposite party to come to an agreement
  • Negotiators that can go under the hammer in any such situation that does not put a cap on budgets

Some Negotiating Tips:

  • The best types of negotiators are those that create a win-win situation that bring harmony and ensure both parties have something to boast
  • Preparation is the best key to successful negotiations.  Knowing the intricacies involved in the business, including the technicalities, is best to know before the meeting starts
  • Listen to others, before making your negotiation.  Don’t accept the first offer, even if it sounds reasonable as you want to get the full picture.  It is also good to summarize and confirm what you heard to ensure that there is a common understanding of the issues and potential resolution
  • Know your resources and limitations
  • Know what you want as the end goal of the project and communicate it very clearly to your team
  • Know what can and can’t be negotiated, for example: regulatory requirements, insurance costs, fees for permits, etc.
  • Plan to compromise. You don’t want to come into a negotiation expecting to not compromise, as you develop a lack of flexibility and a mindset of compromising can lead you to a happier outcome
  • Be human and don’t try to be clever.  Talk with your team members in a pleasant manner, share your troubles and problems, but you’re not trying to outsmart anyone here
  • Fatten your cow before you lay it for slaughter.  This means, have items on your list to make your shopping bag look bulky.  For example, if you know your minimum requirements that you need a PC with Windows XP, ask for a free upgrade to Windows 7 and a larger RAM upgrade.
  • Nobody comes out of school with the skills to negotiate the best.  This takes time and experience in the field, although others have native talent to negotiate over others

Image Credit


Posted by on March 19, 2011 in Project Manager Tips


2 responses to “What Type of Negotiator are You?

  1. Ashley Cray

    March 19, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Great post Lisa! Negotiating is NOT easy which I am finding out really quickly at work. You really have to be firm which can be hard for people who want to make everyone happy.


  2. Lisa Drake

    March 19, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Thanks for your comment Ashley! I agree, negotiating is difficult and sure something I’m working on more and more each day!


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