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Negotiate Your Way To Success

by Michelle LaBrosse

Negotiation is a word that conjures up images of boardrooms, power plays and attorneys.  We often find ourselves intimidated by the very concept of negotiation, and we’re overwhelmed before we begin.  But, it doesn’t have to be that way.  Negotiation is accessible to us all and is a critical skill for professional and personal success.

Know Thyself

The first part of a negotiation is knowing and understanding who you are.  Before you can read others, you have to be able to honestly look in the mirror and know what you’re bringing to the negotiating table.   Don’t worry, we’re not going to send you to therapy.  We’re just going to acquaint you with the basics of personality types.

The theory behind personality types is based on the work of Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, and more recently, Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs who developed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®. Here is a simplified personality assessment based on the four key personality dimensions.

E or I – Are you're an Extrovert (E) or an Introvert (I)

How are you energized?  Do you get excited or animated around others (E) or do you prefer to be on your own? (I)

N or S – Are you Intuitive (N) or Sensory (S)?

What do you focus on in your environment?  Do you look at what could be (N)? Or do see “what is” (S)?  People who fit the N classification are “Idea” people and the people who fit the “S” classification are driven by “real” facts and data.

T or F – Are you a Thinker (T) or a Feeler (F)?

How do you make decisions?  Do you make them impersonally with comments such as “I think” (T)?  Or do you make decisions based on your own values, prefacing comments with “I feel…” (F)?

J or P – Are you Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)?

How do you choose to live?  Do you keep you desk neat and tidy (J)? Or do you prefer to keep it more spontaneously organized and flexible (P)?  People who fit the J classification prefer an orderly life and are happiest when matters are settled.  People who fit the P classification prefer to be spontaneous and are happiest when their lives are more flexible.

Finding your Blind Spots

Once you’ve determined your personality type, then you need to be aware not only of your strengths, but especially your blind spots.  For example, if you are an INTJ you are strategic, thoughtful and deliberate, competent, logical and always prepared. 

Let’s take a look at the blind spots of an INTJ: you may not spend the necessary time to establish rapport or develop relationships.  You may cause confusion because you don’t always communicate clearly.  You may get impatient with people who don’t understand your point of view.  You may be inflexible and difficult to persuade.  This is just one example, for a more complete discussion refer to our book, Cheetah Negotiations.

Once you’ve determined your personality, draw a table like the one below and think about how your personality type has affected relationships with these different groups.




Team Members












Family Members



Recognizing Personality Types in Others

So, what about the people you work with? Or the person sitting across from you at the negotiating table?  People with specific personality types are naturally attracted to positions and careers that fit their type.  For example, entrepreneurs are often ENTPs.  They see possibilities where others don’t.  They are open and enthusiastic about ideas.

Here are some occupations with Personality Type:

ENFJ:  recruiter, fund-raiser, facilitator, psychologist, clergy, politician

INFJ:  career counselor, psychologist, priest/clergy/monk/nun, designer, counselor

ENFP:  reporter, marketer, social worker, pastoral counselor, legal mediator, psychologist

INFP:  architect, editor, legal mediator, counselor, church worker, team building or conflict resolution consultant

ENTJ:  credit investigator, stockbroker, labor relations, attorney, judge, psychologist, psychiatrist, personnel manager, office manager

INTJ: financial planner, computer systems analyst, attorney, designer

ENTP:  politician, financial planner, investment banker, entrepreneur, investor, venture capitalist

INTP:  pharmacist, lawyer, psychoanalyst, investigator, legal mediator

The most important way to determine personality types is to tune into what people say and what they do.  Here are a few tips to get you started:

Tips for Reading People’s Personality Types

  1. Notice their behavior around others.  Do they get excited and draw energy from others (E) or do they prefer to be on their own (I)?
  2. Where do they place their focus?  Do they look at what could be (N) or at what is (S)?
  3. How do they make decisions?  Do they preface their opinions with “I think” (T) or “I feel”? (F)
  4. Do the desk test.  Is their desk neat, tidy and structured (J)?  Or is it more spontaneously organized and flexible (P)?

Communication Approaches

After you identify a personality type, then you need to know how to communicate with that person.  Here are a few examples:

INTJ:  Be brief and to the point.  Acknowledge their work and thank them – especially in front of others.

ISTJ: Don’t bother them with the details. Make sure you understand their current challenges and help them find solutions to solve them.

ENTP: Let them share ideas and participate in the process.  Be clear about the deliverable and what you need.

ESTJ:  Engage them in discussion.  Let them talk about personal matters.  Ask them how they can help you with your problem.

Setting the Stage for Success

From identifying your objectives and priorities to knowing when you will walk away, here are seven steps to prepare for a negotiation.

Seven Steps to Prepare for a Negotiation

  1. Establish the context.  Know what you’re going after and why.  Stay focused on the objective and don’t get drawn into an ego-match.
  2. Identify needs and wants.  The needs are necessary for success.  The wants are improvements that build upon your needs.
  3. Understand what will happen if you don’t reach an agreement.  Brainstorming these outcomes could lead you to solutions that you had not even considered.
  4. Establish the importance of the negotiation outcome.   Are you negotiating with a critical vendor whose service greatly impacts the outcome of a project?  Or are you in a position where the outcome of the negotiation has little strategic impact?
  5. Understand the importance of the relationship with the other party.  Will you have a long-term relationship with the person that you are negotiating with or is it likely to be a short-term interaction?
  6. Determine the Zone of Possible Agreement (ZOPA).  This is the place in which you are in agreement.  You should think about this prior to your negotiation and then try to quickly clarify it, early in your meeting.
  7. Be clear on where you won’t compromise and when you will Get Up And Leave (GUAL) a negotiation.  What are issues that would make you GUAL?  Often it is illegal or unethical behavior or it can be a proposal that is preposterous to your team.  Think about what would make you Get Up and Leave before you enter the negotiation.

Deep Breath.  Hold the Caffeine. 

Now, all you need to do is relax and breathe, and you’re ready to take on your next negotiation challenge.  Eat some protein, avoid the caffeine and carbs and you’re on your way to negotiating your success, Cheetah style.

About The Author

Michelle LaBrosse is Founder, Author of Cheetah Negotiation and Cheetah Project Management.  Michelle has been designing and teaching accelerated learning programs for business since the early '90's and traditional courses since the '80's. LaBrosse holds a B.S. Aerospace Engineering, and an M.S. Mechanical Engineering. She has done extensive postgraduate work with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Advanced Educational Studies and the University of Washington Industrial Engineering Program in accelerating adult learning in corporate environments. Her research focused on using the Internet to accelerate adult learning and in determining effective adult learning strategies using accelerated learning with improvisational comedy.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.