Know and apply one of the five negotiation styles

Know and apply one of the five negotiation styles

Much has been written about the five negotiation styles of accommodation, avoidance, compromise, collaboration, and competition. I was reminded of these recently in a link sent to me by Pia De Los Reyes from Siege Media. This inspired me to write the commentary below to expand on that commentary and share additional insights with you. Now take a look at these five negotiation styles in more detail. Depending on the situation any one of the five may be applicable depending on the situation.




When might one style be more appropriate than another. For example, in some situations such as simply ordering something relationships may not matter or only matter a little, but they are not nearly as important than other situations where you truly have to work together for a common goal. Similarly, in some instances various alternatives may not matter much. You are flexible and can live with any of the alternatives. You may not care if you are in a cab and the driver opts to go around the block to the left or to the right for example. In other instances, the outcome really matters.  Is it better for us as a family to fly there, take a train, or drive for vacation?  Some people in the family may have strong preferences.  There are clear variables that may need to be addressed such as time, money, comfort, interactions, preferences and other issues.

The five styles of negotiation canbe summarized as follows:

  • High relationship concern and high outcome concern for collaboration
  • High relationship concern and low outcome concern for accommodation
  • Low relationship concern and high outcome concern for competition
  • Low relationship concern and low outcome concern for avoidance
  • Both lose and win concerns compromise

Now let us look at each individually.




Collaborating negotiators work with the other party to achieve a common goal by being honest and open. Their style of communication is to be open and creative to jointly develop a solution that is better than could have been established alone. Cooperation is key. By promoting connecting, engaging, relationships substantively through open dialogue, each party can learn and be better for the interaction. Generally, these types of negotiators are focused on the long term, so they take the time to listen for understanding. The intention is to promote value over short term efficiency.




Accommodating negotiators also place a high level of importance on relationships. These negotiators place a higher level of importance on relationships and cooperation than the substance of the agreement. They may be focusing on future interactions and are more oriented towards having an agreement now versus the bottom line of the agreement today. Possibly by being able to initiate this agreement it may be possible to open the door towards future more lucrative and better agreements with the other party.




Competing negotiators tend to be assertive and self-confident. They typically are highly focused and enjoy the competition. This negotiator tends to focus on their own needs and winning compared to their counterpart. They can be aggressive and domineering. Cooperation is of much lower importance than winning the competition. Relationships matter as a means to an end but are of minimal importance otherwise to a competitive negotiator. Substance is what matters.




Avoidance negotiators tend to want to avoid conflict in order to minimize tensions. Typically, they leave the responsibility to the other party while they remain neutral and differ to the other party. Rather than promoting their own interests they tend to self-sacrifice their own interests in order to avoid conflict. Rather than being assertive or working mutually to cooperate, and rather than being focused on the agreement or the relationship, the emphasis is on avoiding confrontation.




Compromising to many means each party has to concede about half. The intention is to have equal concessions on the part of both parties. The compromiser appreciates a quick decision and resolution rather than spending more time understanding interests and working for an optimal solution. As a middle of the road approach there is no strong preference for nor any strong aversion to developing relationships or strong weak interest in the outcome. Rather the interest is in a quick decision with equal concessions by each of the parties.


Overall commentary


Each of these five styles have advantages and disadvantages that may prove optimal depending on the situation. Think about whether developing a relationship may matter to the issue about to be negotiated. Clearly this matters for collaboration or accommodation type negotiations. Relationships are of minimal importance for avoidance and competition type negotiations. Understanding these differences can make a big difference to your effectively working your next negotiation.


Preferred style


To be an effective negotiator consider your own preferred style. Might it change depending on the situation? Might you have one or more types that you may not like? Next consider the same two questions regarding the other party. It is a good idea to explore developing a relationship first and listening to the other party. By listening you may very well obtain clues regarding the other party’s preferred style. This will allow you to adjust to the other party’s style helping you in the negotiation.


What can you do in business?


For those that recognize the benefits of a collaborative style and work to enhance skills associated with collaboration, they tend to do better when adapting to others. This is elaborated on in The Collaboration Effect. Collaboration tends to maximize value, understanding and longer-term beneficial outcomes. This style is often used most in material, significant business dealings. Behind every position is at least one interest. Behind each interest is the seed to a solution. By exploring the facts and issues with open ended questions, it may be possible to work towards a more optimal solution for both parties focusing on interests through the process of collaboration. For those that are not collaboratively oriented, sometimes it is possible to guide the other party towards this approach based on the open-ended questions asked. For example:

  • With our limited time together what would you like to talk about?
  • What has been on your mind lately?
  • What would you like to have happen?

These are just a few ideas to help scope out the other party’s interests and see how they may respond. Try this out and fun with this information. Good luck negotiating.

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]