There are five major styles in negotiation, according to Situation Management Systems, Inc., (S.M.S.), a research and management training group in Plymouth, Mass.
Some of the underpinnings of the concepts go back to psychoanalyst Karen Horney, who, in her book Our Inner Conflicts, outlined three ways of relating to people: moving toward, moving against and moving away. In S.M.S. jargon, that's pull, push or disengage.
PERSUADING: Using logic, facts, debate, proposals. Giving reasons for and against. (A push.)
ASSERTING: Using the carrot and the stick--incentives and pressures--to control others' behavior. Evaluating others' behavior. Using words like should, must and ought to. (A push.)
BRIDGING: Involving and supporting the other person. Paraphrasing something said by the other person. Expressing feelings, showing vulnerability. (A pull.)
ATTRACTING: Exploring the common ground. Presenting a vision of what a family, business or society could be like. This is the style of the charismatic leader, such as when Martin Luther King proclaimed, "I have a dream." (A pull.)
DISENGAGING: Breaking to cool tension when conflict arises. Telling a well-timed joke. Calling for a vote. For example, when tension is high, the Japanese motion for tea to be brought in, or, at a Quaker meeting, a call for silence.
No one style is always right, but sometimes one may be more appropriate than another. Bridging, for example, occurs when you establish rapport at the start of negotiations, and it may be used again later, along with persuading, when drawing up the contract.
Some people may rely on a style that works for them but have a block against admitting another into their repertoire. Some styles are person-specific: You may use one more frequently with a spouse, and another with a supervisor or child. Portions of this article are based on material copyrighted by Situation Management Systems, Inc., reprinted here by permission.