9 Ways Your ‘Negotiation Personality’ Can Undermine Your Success

This is a guest post by Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez.

Here are three questions you may have never asked yourself prior to entering into a negotiation, but should: What kind of negotiator am I? What kind of negotiator would I like to be? And, more importantly, what kind of negotiator do I ‘need’ to be in this situation to emerge victorious? One key to being a master negotiator is intuitively employing different approaches and taking an alternate direction based on each given situation. But, in order to do this effectively, one must first understand the varying, and quite distinctive, negotiator personality archetypes—one or the other of which most people typically utilize while they “wheel and deal.” Without this strategic aptitude and application of the right persona for the deal at hand, at best it’ll be harder than it needs to be and at worst all could be lost.

An archetype is defined as a pattern of behavior or thought or, according to Oxford Dictionary, “a very typical example of a person or thing.” So one’s “negotiation archetype” is someone’s “way of being” throughout the process—those particular characteristics and behaviors that one would use to describe the person and their deal-making methodology. This can be regarded as a “role” being played, whether contrived or realistic, but the emphasis being on how the person is operating within that role. Learning how to effortlessly and seamlessly apply certain archetypes to specific situations is a powerful skill. This kind of adaptability and fluidity among different deals—and even as one given deal ebbs, flows, unfolds and changes course—can gain you substantial leverage and advantages, including the ultimate win. Even better when it’s a win-win for all parties involved.

What are the typical negotiation personalities? While the following nine personality archetypes are not all-inclusive, they do represent the primary means by which the majority of people negotiate. Achieving the right balance and striking just the right cord with these archetypes based on each negotiation situation at hand is sure to pay dividends.


1. The Politician

This archetype is someone who influences or outmaneuvers others. They often seek support by appealing to popular passions and prejudices through carefully crafted language. A negotiation politician typically campaigns to influence or persuade others to support their point-of-view. Often this approach is only advantageous for one’s own advantage—also known as a win-lose proposition.

2. The Direct Communicator

This archetype is someone who gets to the point every time. They don’t have any time for hearing the story or any excessive communication that will waste time. They want to discuss the facts only and not hear any of the back story or an overabundance of detail. They ask for what they want. Their way of communication is clear, concise, powerful and quick in order to achieve an agreement or resolution to the negotiation situation.


3. The Hinter

This is the opposite of the Direct Communicator. The Hinter archetype does not ask for anything directly but rather they hint around at what they want. It can be done out of fear of being rejected or, sometimes, it is done as a manipulation technique to get the other party to do what is wanted without having ever been directly asked or mandated.

4. The Storyteller

This archetype wants to tell the entire story. This is the person who, if you ask what time it is, they’ll tell you how to build the watch. With this archetype it’s hard to understand what the point is because of the overabundance of information they are sharing.

5. The Bully

This archetype uses aggressive and browbeating behavior to get their way in a negotiation. It could be by yelling or body posture, threats or harassment, menacing words or other fear-based tactics they deem necessary to back the other side into a corner so as to take the power position. The object is to intimidate the other party so they’ll give in and agree to the bully’s terms.

6. The Non Negotiator

This archetype doesn’t negotiate at all. They fear negotiation, which they regard it as confrontational, and want no part of it. They will agree to whatever the other party wants even if it means losing out significantly. They just want the situation to go away as quickly as possible.

7. The Victim

This archetype attempts to parlay their hard luck to gain sympathy regarding their situation so the other party will “go easy” on them. They may go on in great detail about the situation they are experiencing in an attempt to make others feel sorry for them—the hopeful end game being that the opposing party will be more receptive and agreeable to their position and terms and not negotiate as hard as they would otherwise.


8. The Nutburger

This archetype is someone you can’t negotiate with. There’s no reasoning with someone whose behavior is irrational, overly emotional or just plain nutty. This personality type can be construed as anxious, stressed, frustrated, angry or downright weird.

9. My Fair Lady/An Officer and a Gentleman

These archetypes are what you want to strive for in your negotiations. Characteristics include negotiating with integrity, ethics and considering what is and is not fair and reasonable for both sides to create a win-win outcome. Those most effective use some or all of the archetype characteristics above in differing situations. The key is knowing which ones to use and when to use them ethically and honorably in order to achieve your objectives in the negotiation.

Understanding these nine archetypes and discerning where you tend to naturally fall, how other people are categorized in relation to you, and how to capitalize on a different type of personality approach (and deal with those of others) is a tremendous asset in your negotiation arsenal. Such archetypal adaptability is sure to serve you well as you strive to reach agreements with others—however challenging a person they may be.


About the guest post author:

Veteran negotiation and contracts expert Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez, author of “Think Like a Negotiator,” has over 30 years of experience crafting killer deals both stateside and internationally, many in excess of $100 million. She’s currently the CEO of Dynamic Vision International—a specialized consulting and training firm that helps individuals hone negotiation skills—as well as a nationally regarded keynote speaker, session leader and panelist on the Art of Negotiation. 

Eldonna may be reached online at

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