WHAT’S YOUR NEGOTIATING STYLE? Take the Quiz to Find The Answer

Personal styles greatly affect negotiations.

  1. Donald Trump and people like him get some great deals, but lose deals and create enemies.
  2. Friendly people make many deals and have good relationships, but get exploited.
  3. Analytic people thoroughly study the issues, but they ignore personalities and essential

That is, every style has strengths and weaknesses.

Let’s look at your style. A brief quiz will identify your natural style. Then we’ll discuss your strengths and weakness.


For each question divide ten points among the three styles:

  1. Aggressive
  2. Friendly
  3. Analytic

You can give all ten points to one or two styles or divide them among all three.

Some questions ask what you do and why you do it. Others ask only what you do.

Don’t try to give the “right” answers because there aren’t any. Say what you really think, feel, and do.

  1. When negotiating, I emphasize:

___ A. Power

___ B. Friendly relationships

___ C. Facts & logic

  1. When I’m buying, my first offer is:

___ A. Much less than I’ll pay because I want to get the lowest price

___ B. Close to what I’ll pay because I don’t want to insult the seller

___ C. Very close to what I’ll pay because it’s the most reasonable offer

  1. When shaking hands, especially with strangers:

___ A. I move close, shake briefly and forcefully, squeeze their hand, and

look intently into their eyes. My body language says, “I’m stronger,

smarter, and tougher than you are.”

___ B. I move close, shake gently, hold their hand for long time, and smile

warmly. My body language says, “Let’s be friends.”

___ C. I stay far away, shake briefly, and have little eye contact. My body

language says, “I don’t want a personal relationship.”

  1. Which word best describes you?

___ A. Aggressive

___ B. Friendly

___ C. Analytic

  1. When preparing to negotiate, I emphasize learning:

___ A. People’s strengths and weaknesses

___ B. People’s personalities

___ C. Objective facts such as the market and production costs

  1. When negotiating, I communicate:

___ A. Deceptively to increase my power and hide my weaknesses

___ B. Openly to create a trusting relationship

___ C. Openly so everybody has enough information to solve the


  1. My primary negotiating objective is to:

___ A. Win

___ B. Have a good relationship

___ C. Reach a rational deal

  1. My feelings about hard bargaining are:

___ A. Positive, I love competition

___ B. Negative, I detest competition

___ C. Negative, hard bargaining doesn’t produce rational deals

  1. I’d define a “good negotiation” as one that:

___ A. I win

___ B. Improves our relationship

___ C. Produces a rational deal

  1. I prefer to negotiate with:

___ A. Successful people. I don’t waste time with lightweights.

___ B. Nice people. I want friendly relationships.

___ C. Logical people. I want to focus on the facts in a logical way.


Add up the points for A, B, and C and insert the total in the proper space. Make sure the three scores total 100.

  1. Aggressive        ___
  2. Friendly ___
  3. Analytic ___


If a score was 55 or higher, it’s your natural style. The higher your score, the more extreme your style is. For example, Trump would get close to 100% aggressive.

If none of your scores is 55 or higher, but two scores total 80 or more, you’re that combination of styles.

If none of your scores was 55 or higher, and no two scores totaled 80, your style is balanced.


EVERY style has strengths and weaknesses.

EVERY style will succeed in some situations and fail in others.

Here’s a summary of the three basic styles’ strengths and weaknesses.


Negotiating Strengths: Their greatest strength is their love for bargaining. Discomfort makes many people avoid or rush through negotiations, but they enjoy playing the game.

They excel in adversarial negotiations, such as about prices.

They enjoy making extreme demands, stonewalling, bluffing, expressing anger, and even lying. These tactics often succeed because most people can’t or won’t act that way.

They will push right to the limit, getting virtually every penny on the table.

Negotiating Weaknesses: They are ter­rible at satisfying other people’s needs, working together to solve common problems, and building trusting relationships.

They compete even when they should cooperate. They have to win, even if a victory costs them more than it’s worth. They often try to push past people’s limit, losing both the deal and the relationship.

They won’t create the trust, cooperation, and open communication needed to solve common problems.

They see compromises, not as a means to reach mutually satisfying deals or build good will, but as signs of weakness. They often won’t make essential  compromises.

They create enemies. Other people may refuse to make concessions they had intended or walk away from an acceptable deal. “I’d rather lose money than let that SOB run over me.”

They won’t change a bad strategy. Changing feels like admitting their original strategy was a mistake, and they won’t admit mistakes. Trump once said, “My style of deal making is quite simple and straightforward.  I just keep pushing and pushing and pushing to get what I’m after.”[1]

They often can’t fit together a mutually satisfactory deal because they are too insensitive to understand and respond to other people’s signals.

Their impatience and poor attention to details can make them rush into an agreement without fully understanding its implications. Serious implementation problems often occur.

They push too far. Either the negotiations break down, or the others ache for revenge, don’t implement the agreement well, or decide not to do any future business. They win the battle, but lose the war.


Negotiating Strengths: Their strengths and weaknesses are the opposite of aggressives’. One is strong where the other is weak.

Aggressives win some negotiations, but miss many deals. Friendlies make deals that aggressives couldn’t make, turn around bad relationships, and establish a foundation for future cooperation. They reach win-win deals because:

  • They want everyone to feel good about the deal and the way it was reached.
  • They reduce tensions, bring together people who don’t want to cooperate, and break deadlocks. Nearly every family and organization needs people like that.
  • Because they communicate openly and honestly, they encourage others to do the same. Both sides can build on a foundation of trust and good information.
  • Since they want to understand people and listen well, they learn others’ situations and motives.
  • Instead of considering only one or two possible deals, they may experiment and produce a creative, superior solution.
  • They build solid, trusting relationships. People like to work with them and may even accept an inferior deal because they know that they can be trusted.

These strengths make them valuable members of most families and organizations, especially intensely competitive ones.

NEGOTIATING WEAKNESSES: Their cooperative strengths can be much smaller than their bargaining weaknesses. Many negotiations don’t contain significant cooperative opportunities, but there is always conflict

Many friendlies deny reality about conflict. They essentially pretend it doesn’t exist. Without conflict there’s no need to negotiate.

Getting to Yes dishonestly became a best seller by pandering to the naïve belief that conflict doesn’t exist. It claimed its win-win approach is an “all-purpose strategy” that works in every situation, even with hijackers. A later edition repeated that lie after hijackers killed over 3,000 people by flying airplanes into the World Trade Center.

They openly share information and expect others to do the same. But many people withhold information, bluff, and lie while negotiating. The information friendlies give away is often used against them.

They make too many concessions. Even in obviously competitive situations such as price negotiations, they concede too much rather than fight for their fair share.


Negotiating Strengths: Their impersonality helps them to remain cool and analytic, even when others become emotional or irrational.

They prepare very thoroughly. They may carefully study the market, compare several products, and learn various vendors’ prices, reputation, and after sales service. This thoroughness builds their power:

  • They have important facts right at their fingertips.
  • They learn about other alternatives.
  • They can walk away from this deal and make a different one.

While negotiating, they analyze issues thoroughly and don’t act impetuously. They understand the implications of any position before acting.

Because they don’t talk carelessly, they often get much more information than they give. Some people to talk too much, even about sensitive subjects, trying to force some reaction from them.

They are willing to walk away rather than accept a bad deal or respond to an unrealistic position.

Their thoroughness reduces implementation problems. Everyone knows what to do.

Negotiating Weaknesses: Their greatest weakness is their dislike for negotiations, especially its “irrational” elements. They often respond to their discomfort, not to the negotiating process’ demands.

Although they prepare thoroughly about the issues, they often ignore “irrational” subjects such as the other people’s personalities and probable reactions.

They can be so uncomfortable that they try to convert bargaining sessions into analytic, problem-solving meetings.

They ignore essential rituals, especially the mutual concession ritual. (I give a little; you give a little; and we reach a deal that makes both of us feel we gained by negotiating). Many people regard that ritual as the essence of negotiations.

Instead of building “fat” into their proposal, then trading it away, analytics start near or even at their bottom line. Others resent their refusal to “bargain in good faith.” Rather than “lose” by making all the concessions, they just walk away, even if the analytic’s offer is within their range.

They are insensitive to other peoples’ motives and concerns. They miss signals, including quite obvious ones, because they don’t care what others want, think, or feel. They care only about objective facts and figures.

They may prepare so thoroughly that they won’t consider alternatives that haven’t been thoroughly researched. They may miss opportunities for more creative and mutually-beneficial deals.

They may also be too rigid because they believe that what is right or most cost-effective can’t be compromised. They may place so much emphasis upon certain facts, principles, or procedures that they can’t make compromises, especially tactical ones.

Too much time can be spent clarifying issues, including unimportant ones. There may not be  not enough time to make trades, explore creative alternatives, etc.

Predictability is their final weakness. Others can often accurately determine and exploit their limits, priorities, power, and strategy. Then they will use that knowledge against the analytics.


I hope you’re learned some valuable lessons from this quiz and discussion. But there’s lots more to learn. My book and online course will teach you how to:

  1. Build on your strengths and reduce your weaknesses
  2. Select the right strategy for various situations
  3. Adjust your style when negotiating with various types of people

For more information about my online course, click HERE.

For more information about my book, click HERE.

To subscribe to my blogs and newsletters, click HERE.

[1] “Flashy symbol of an acquisitive age: Donald Trump,” TIME, January 16, 1989.

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