Are there Negotiation Archetypes, and why should I care?

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We have the ability to create choice by altering our interpretations of the world.
— Sheena Iyengar, Author - The Art of Choosing

Twenty years ago, one of the favourite words used by business gurus and keynote speakers at conferences was – a paradigm shift. Today you would think it is a button on a Tesla motor car. Now, a new hot word has appeared – archetype!

People ask at conferences or meetings are there negotiation archetypes? The answer is yes.

Let’s take a look at the negotiation archetypes used in the book, The Creative Negotiator 2ed, and why they are important. In the book, they are referred to as negotiating styles or preferences when negotiating, whether B2B or personal negotiations. There are four main styles or archetypes, but these can be broken down into many variations - let’s stick with the four main archetypes.

So what is an Archetype?

A broad definition: archetypes have similar or typical characteristics or behavioural preferences. Their behaviour is louder than the words they use. These patterns of behaviours drive their choices and reactions in negotiations and can be measured and observed.

These behaviours can be modified or adapted for different negotiation contexts, and this is key to being a great negotiator.

Everyone has an individual style, yet they can alter their behaviour according to different circumstances if they are well prepared. Think about the way you interact with your friends. You don’t treat all your friends and acquaintances the same. There will be someone you know who’s a bit more sensitive than most—so you have to be extra careful not to hurt their feelings. Or you’ll have a family member with thick skin, so you need to be appallingly blunt to get your message across.

Everyone’s different. Every situation is different. So you need to be able to vary your negotiation style according to the person with whom you’re negotiating and the outcomes you want.

An awareness of the different types of negotiation and the different negotiation styles is foundational. Before you can decide which type and style to use, you must think carefully about what you want from the negotiation.

Why should I care?

Negotiating requires parties to interact and communicate with different archetypes.

There can be a dramatic difference between how parties interact and communicate. Increase your understanding of these differences by understanding how people use different negotiating styles. Negotiating styles are different depending on the context of the situation. You should consider both the substantive issues and your relationship with the person/s in that negotiation.

Our research and experience reveal that too often people don’t put enough work into the way that they prepare to manage their style and that of the other party. As discussed in the book The Creative Negotiator, 2ed, you can only impact and influence decision makers when you understand their real interests.

When you understand the other person/s needs and their interests, it allows you to develop more substantive issues and enhance value during the negotiation. You can grow the pie and not fall into the ‘fixed-pie’ trap.

In the very dynamic B2B world, negotiations continue to grow in complexity and trust is needed to open the lines of communication. In a joint research project with the University of Technology, Australia, we created a model to identify your archetype or negotiating style. The Negotiating with Style® model examines the two dimensions of assertiveness and cooperation for every negotiator, providing feedback for individuals and teams on their preferences.

In the model, Figure 1, Cooperation is how you reach agreement on substantive issues in the negotiation. Assertiveness is the process you apply to reach the outcome, based on relationships with the individual or team in the negotiation.

Your performance on these two key dimensions of cooperation and assertiveness determines your archetype description, preference, or negotiating style.

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The four Archetypes.

Accommodate - Goal: to build friendly relationships.

People with this style prefer to negotiate by being cooperative and unassertive. People who adopt the ‘build relationships’ approach to the negotiation often use the accommodating style. With this style, the negotiator focuses more on the relationship and less on the substantive issues.

When dealing with this archetype, you must connect with the person first, before the deal.


Cooperate - Goal: to find a better solution.

People with this style prefer to negotiate by being assertive and cooperative. People who adopt a more problem-solving approach to the negotiation often use this cooperative style. With this style, the negotiator encourages expanding opportunities for both parties, rather than competing over scarce resources.

When dealing with this archetype, the clear focus is on working together with the person/s and a critical understanding of the substantive issues.


Avoid - Goal: to delay an outcome.

People with this style prefer not to negotiate and are unassertive and uncooperative. People who do not want to negotiate often use the avoiding style.

When dealing with this archetype remember they don’t want to be there, be careful what you wish for, it might seem an easy negotiation – but it might not stick.


Compete - Goal: to win.

People with this style prefer to negotiate by being assertive and uncooperative. People who adopt the ‘winner takes all’ approach to the negotiation often use the competitive style.

When dealing with this archetype, be well prepared, the negotiator focuses more on winning on the substantive issues and less on the relationship, often at your expense.


Everyone brings lots of differences to each negotiation. Your ability to understand yourself and others will help you deal with different negotiating archetypes. Your role is to understand the differences which will allow you to achieve a better outcome; the differences won't blindside you; your focus will shift to how you can leverage the value.

Remember, your ability to be agile and adaptive to different negotiation archetypes is your key to better outcomes in every negotiation.