Negotiation styles, by Nayla Mitha, Stitt Feld Handy Group

One of the topics that we discuss in our workshops is negotiation styles. Most of us engage in some sort of negotiation on a daily basis, whether it has to do with working out the details of a complicated contract, roles and responsibilities within the workplace, or something as simple as who is responsible for making dinner tonight. What we often fail to think about is the process of how we engage in that negotiation.

Let’s take a look at the simple example of a customer-service related complaint, which is something that most of us have had experience with and probably seen many times from the back of the “complaints line”. In my personal experience, I have typically observed people negotiating in two very different ways in this context. The first way is to attack the customer service representative, kick up a fuss, and bang your fists on the table. This can help you to get what you want, but it also has a downside. Many people are not comfortable using this type of negotiation style and from what I have seen, both parties do not walk away from the table feeling comfortable about the negotiation. The other style that I have observed in this situation is people giving in to whatever the customer service representative says, even when they have a valid claim. This style also has its advantages, in that it may be less stressful, but the person with the complaint often ends up with a bad deal at the end of the day. One cannot help but think that there must be a better way to get what you want.

We talk about these different types of bargaining styles in our negotiation and ADR workshops. We also give a lecture about Principled Negotiation, which is a method of negotiation that was developed at Harvard. Principled Negotiation provides you with a system to help you prepare for and work through negotiations. It also helps you to make sure that you get a good deal for you, without having to jeopardize your relationship with the other person or unnecessarily give in to their demands. All of our role-plays and exercises are geared towards gaining an in-depth understanding of Principled Negotiation techniques so that at the end of the workshop you are able to put them into practice at work, at home, or wherever you choose to do so.

Written by Nayla Mitha, a Toronto-based mediator, lawyer, negotiator, facilitator, ADR systems designer, and trainer with the Stitt Feld Handy Group.

About Stitt Feld Handy Group

The Stitt Feld Handy Group is a Canadian based Alternative Dispute Resolution firm specializing in professional development training and dispute resolution services. More at