The Personality Traits Of Good Negotiators


In the second part, the effectiveness of your strategy depends on who your negotiator is, what they want, and how you connect with them. This is difficult to apply to all three reasons because there are too many contextual peculiarities underlying the negotiations. One size does not fit all; there are simply too many variables, too few rules, and not enough understanding of how to negotiate and negotiate more effectively. There are a number of different approaches to negotiations and negotiation solutions, but not all of them work.

Many of the factors that determine the outcome of business negotiation are emotional rather than rational and require a deep psychological understanding of the persons involved. Fortunately, personality research provides a useful tool for predicting an individual’s ability to negotiate without formal training. Some of these characteristics clearly indicate good negotiating potential, while others are more likely to indicate disadvantages.

While all these traits improve an individual’s ability to negotiate, emotional intelligence (EQ) is in a league of its own. Most articles emphasize the benefits of EQ in negotiations, but that is not to say that these people cannot do better; their success will depend on understanding their own personality traits, as well as those of the person they are negotiating with. A Google Scholar search generates a list of more than 1,000 articles on the subject from a variety of sources.

Photo Credit: Sweco Architects

EQ is also reflected in greater satisfaction with the outcome of the negotiations, regardless of the objective outcome. For example, a study by Wharton and MIT professors showed that people with high EQ are more likely to generate positive moods among their negotiating partners and to be more satisfied with negotiation outcomes regardless of the solutions deployed.

As if that wasn’t enough, people with high EQ tend to be more confident because they can better understand how others see them. EQ is also associated with a higher level of self-control and sympathy, especially when dealing with others in emotionally stressful situations.

Another characteristic that shows a strong association with negotiation potential is the cognitive ability (IQ). A comprehensive meta-analytical review of nearly 5,000 studies found that IQ, as well as other cognitive skills such as memory and attention, are associated with constructs of cognitive complexity. While, of course, one would expect IQ to improve bargaining performance, the study also found that “people with higher IQ tended to be more cooperative and cooperative in bargaining, treating their negotiating partners as partners, and relying on win-win strategies that satisfied both sides. The same meta-analysis showed that introspection, defined as the study of one’s own behaviour and one’s impressions of others, is an important component of good negotiating skills and a key factor in bargaining performance.

Self-centred, narcissistic individuals who believe they can simply be themselves and ignore the views of others are often celebrated in the Western world for being self-centred, and that makes sense. But the fact is that these people will miss a key component of good negotiation: the ability to connect with others. We all have mental models that interpret the behaviour of other peoples, and our awareness of these models is the key to influencing people’s thinking.

This characteristic is particularly problematic when it comes to negotiations, and it will hinder you during a negotiation. Neuroticism reduces one’s own satisfaction with the outcome of the negotiations, even if the result is actually positive. It has been associated with complaints and the fact that it brings with it a lack of self-control and a tendency to overreact, which can cause problems for both you and your partner.

On the other hand, Machiavellianism, a dark personality trait associated with manipulation and exploitation of others and behaving in risky and anti-social ways, predicts confidently negotiating tactics and motivates individuals to engage in negotiations. It should also be noted that not all Machiavelli have sophisticated social skills, and many are excessively impulsive. This is because they can do worse if they are overly competitive and aggressive, or if they push things too far.

Although personality certainly influences how we typically behave in negotiations, we are free to choose how we act, so this is not a deterministic model.

As the great Jean-Jacques Rousseau said: “There was a time when I was so different that I could be mistaken for someone very different from me.”

In order to keep our personalities under control, we must be aware of them, because it is vital to understand what our inclinations and predispositions are if we want to change them, or at least inhibit them, in negotiations. Although most of our talents are in the right places in our personality, the awareness of our personality allows us to use our natural style in situations that suit us well, be during any form of negotiation consulting or other areas of life.