4 Tips to Handling your opponent with Confidence cover image

4 Tips to Handling your opponent with Confidence



Welcome to part 2 of the 3-part series on how to negotiate with confidence. 

In the last article we explored how being prepared before you negotiate,  can increase your confidence.  Preparation enables you to understand the business and the environment it exists within, so you can make informed decisions to match your intended outcome. Preparation gives insight to the tactics that could occur during the meeting, and by preparing your mindset, it will help you manage your nerves, so you can function more effectively.

In part 2, we look at how you can negotiate with confidence by understanding the other party.   

Tip 1:  Understand someone else’s objectives 

The aim of negotiating is to etch out a pathway to an agreement. While it’s ideal that the final agreement is a win-win for both parties, it won’t always be the case. People often fail to reach an agreement, because they do not understand what the other person’s objectives are, or they are unwilling to compromise on their own objectives.

Understanding the other party’s objectives will highlight what is important to them, and which aspects they can’t do without.  Although each party’s objectives might be different, you might be able to structure the transaction to suit both parties.  To understand the other party’s objectives, you will need to slow down the process; listen and understand what is being said, gain rapport and be open to consider alternatives.

Tip 2: Understand the other person’s representational systems 

Have you ever wondered why you don’t understand someone?  It could be because they are communicating with a different representational system or learning style than your own. 

In the 1920’s Walter Burke Barbe explained that people learn by using their senses, with one of the senses usually being dominant over the others. The theory classified the learning styles as visual (learning through sight], auditory (learning through hearing) or kinaesthetic (learning through feeling). Neil D Fleming later added auditory digital (which is learning through reading and writing).  

People usually relate more effectively if the information they receive is presented in their preferred style. 

  • Visual: A person who is primarily visual, relates to visual cues. They’re interested in how things look, including appearances and learn by seeing the material. When negotiating with someone who has a visual representational system, use visual words, associated with sight such as see, look, reveal, clear, view, show, crystal clear and imagine. Use phrases, such as ‘can you see what I mean?’ and include in written material pictures, graphs and diagrams.

  • Auditory: A person who is mainly auditory, relates to sound. They learn by listening and like to talk. They want to be told what to do and respond to hearing words such as listen, hear, silence, tune in or heard, or phrases such as ‘can you hear what I’m saying’. They will also respond to your tone of voice. So when negotiating, occasionally repeat what you have said,  or have the other party repeat your words, and use tone for emphasis.

  • Kinaesthetic: A person who is mainly kinaesthetic, relates to how they feel.  You can connect with someone who is kinaesthetic by using words associated with feeling, such as touch, feel, understand, or grasp and use phrases associated with feeling, such as 'yes, I understand’..  When presenting material, include images which evoke emotions. A kinaesthetic person might also want to physically touch or be involved in the task.   

  • Auditory digital: A person who is predominantly auditory digital, appreciates steps and notes and is considered.  They learn by listening, reading and taking notes, but might also display various other traits from the other representational systems. The words that they will respond to are, consider, motivate, process and know. When dealing with an Auditory Digital person, you might also need to summarise key pieces of information on charts or with dot points. 

If you understand how other person relates and negotiate in their style, it will enhance your communication, connection and confidence.  

Tip 3:  Understand the other person’s personality type 

Negotiation might also be difficult if you don’t relate to the other person’s personality type.  Personality is the combination of traits, including thoughts, behaviours, perceptions and emotions.  Generally, there are four different personality types, although some people may reflect a combination of two or more of them. 

  • Direct: A direct personality type communicates in short, sharp sentences. They don’t like a lot of detail and prefer information to be presented succinctly. They might appear aloof and will usually get to the point quickly. They will appear bored, impatient and frustrated with small talk and long drawn-out negotiations and conversations.  An example of a person with a direct personality is Donald Trump.Direct personalities usually use direct assertive communication. When they negotiate, because of their assertive communication, they might appear powerful and controlled. If this person lacks charm, it might be difficult for them to create rapport, especially with other personality types. When dealing with this personality, don’t worry about making small talk - Keep to the point and be direct.

  • Sanguine: A sanguine personality type communicates light-heartedly. They may appear outgoing, bubbly, gregarious, easy-going, friendly and are relationship orientated. They might appear to be disorganized and are often late. An example of a person with a sanguine personality is Richard Branson. When engaging with this personality, you will achieve a better connection, if you first work on building a relationship with them, before proceeding directly into the negotiation.

  • Phlegmatic: A person with a phlegmatic personality appears relaxed, calm and quiet. In discussions, they might not become involved initially or make any comments. Don’t take this as them being uninterested, they are merely considering the information that has been presented before providing their ideas. The phlegmatic’s lack of response might make you feel nervous and might cause you to talk and provide additional information to fill in any silent gaps. This isn’t necessary and might end up with you providing too much information. Lady Diana had a phlegmatic personality. 

  • Conscientious: A conscientious personality type (also described as melancholy) likes detail and facts, and prefers planned rather than spontaneous behaviour. They may be organized, efficient and considered, and communicate by asking lots of questions. When speaking, they might find it hard to be direct and instead will provide you with a lot of detail. When dealing with this personality, provide them with a lot of information and allow them to ask questions.  But, to avoid getting lost in the detail, chunk up the information, summarize the facts and lead them back to the point of what is being discussed in order to move the discussion forward. Accountants, or people who appreciate detail, may have conscientious personality types.

Summary of Personality Types


Tip 4: Understand the other person’s negotiation style

People do not only have different personalities or communication or learning styles, but they might have different negotiation styles. Some people might try to accommodate your objectives or appear agreeable because they want to avoid conflict.  Others might compete and be aggressive.  Others might be indirect and avoid conflict.   By recognising how someone negotiates you can respond accordingly.  If you usually avoid conflict and have to deal with someone who is aggressive, for example, then perhaps you should take someone else to the meeting to assist with the negotiation.   

Tip 5: Understand the other party’s beliefs and values 

People also behave in accordance with their beliefs and values.    

  • Beliefs: Beliefs are what someone holds as being true. If someone believes that they always win, they will negotiate differently from someone who thinks they never win.   If they believe they will win, their attitude, which is reflected in their beliefs, might be arrogant.
    The person with the belief that they will not be successful might justify that belief and discount their loss, with thoughts such as, ‘they didn’t proceed as the transaction as it was high risk’ or ‘I didn’t want it anyway’.

  • Values: Generally, people will act in accordance with their hierarchy of values or what they deem as being most important them. Understanding someone’s values is vital in understanding their motives and objectives, and enables you to build rapport by reflecting those values.
    Someone that has a high value for business might spend more time on their business than with family. Perhaps their value is self-actualization and personal growth, which is more important to them than emotional security.   You can increase your connection with that person by acknowledging their achievements however, if you referred to their family it might not have the same emotional trigger for them. 

Key takeaways: 

An aim of negotiation is to settle differences and find an agreement that is suitable for both parties.  However, quite often the parties might not reach an agreement and misunderstanding occurs because of the different personalities, communication and negotiation styles.   

A person’s objectives, values and the way they relate through their style of learning, communication and negotiation will provide key information which will help you understand their behaviour and how to relate and negotiate with them, with confidence.


About the Author:

This extract has been taken from the book, ‘Entrepreneur Know How – Mindset and Winning Steps for Buying a Business,’ written by Sharon Robson (Available through Amazon). Sharon is also the principal lawyer, director and founder of the boutique law firm, Antler Legal – a corporate commercial legal practice in Sydney, Australia. She has played a key role in facilitating, advising and negotiating many business transactions on behalf of her clients. Sharon is also a speaker, marketer and business owner. She is passionate about mindset and empowering people through education.

Sharon Robson
Antler Legal