Negotiator magazine dot com title

THE NEGOTIATOR MAGAZINE: Dedicated to being the finest resource on negotiation.
Find us on Facebook


Subscription Required

The Stylish Negotiator

By JemmaBlythe Alexander Shelton-Spurr (JB Shelton)

Download PDF Download PDF

“This above all: to thine own self be true.
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Polonius to his son Laertes
Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act 1, scene 3

Being true to yourself as a negotiator requires knowing what type of negotiator you are. By reviewing details about the four types — organizer, free spirit, egotist and gentle soul — you’ll learn which styles of thinking, acting and reacting will prove most effective.

One negotiator type in particular may resonate in your heart and head. However, we negotiators change, adjust and respond depending on the negotiation itself. The topics and people involved will provide strong and varying impacts. It is essential that you ebb and flow as best to glide gently over any troubled waters they create.

The more you know about the other types, the better you’ll be able to use their styles to your advantage. Whenever you deem it appropriate, borrow attributes from other types.


John’s motto is, “Everything is under control.” And he really believes it is true. His plans are well researched and detailed. He knows all the specifics about strategies and tactics to achieve his negotiating goals. He becomes sarcastic when his opponent mumbles, “That paperwork is around here someplace.”

He believes every item ought to be in its place (folder, computer file, iPad synced to every other electronic device he owns and all backed up in the Cloud.) He is intimidating, but will lose that control to frustration when a minor item is amiss in print or in conversation.

You can take advantage of John when he’s distracted by lack of perfection during the negotiation. That’s the best time to be calm and bold, phrasing your own goal with assurance that it will complement and restore his organized position.

Free Spirit

Amelia can charm the birds from the trees. Her image — smile, posture and wardrobe — is welcoming. She presents herself as a confident executive who has perfected a Buddha-like calmness, although her exuberance and chatty nature are not Buddha correct.

She revels in all aspects of the negotiating process, with in-person communications, body language and gentle hugs far outweighing formal preparations. Her major sense is humor.

Amelia has difficulty understanding opponents who are not free spirits like herself. You can take advantage by responding to her cheery persona with a smile and stating how your goals will benefit you both. It will delight her and move the negotiation forward.


Charles is very important to Charles and, therefore, to his negotiating team and his opponents. He knows it all and quite a bit more. In his world, there are two ways of negotiating — his way and the wrong way. He thinks his time is much more valuable than yours is.

Charles is a poster child for the Peter Principle, promoted to his level of incompetence in the corporate hierarchy. He doesn’t ask permission before taking action; he only apologizes after if he deems doing so can’t be avoided.

He loves to talk about himself and strives to be the center of attention. When Charles reveals more than you need to know about Charles, you can take advantage of opportunities to flatter him about his fascinating anecdotes. Then swiftly segue into a focus of the negotiation that will benefit you from his revelations.

Gentle Soul

Patricia was born to please, a trait that frankly is not a prime attribute in negotiating. She will naturally like you and expect you to like her. You may hesitate to negotiate with gusto and guile: Do not hesitate.

Patricia cherishes win-win negotiations from start to finish. She’s ready to meet in the middle. Find the emotional middle of your relationship and you may get more than your fair share.

Be careful of her natural abilities to gain control. Patricia speaks so softly that you can hardly hear her. As you move closer, she creates a bond of intimacy. She will gently ply her requests before you realize what is happening. Take advantage by leaning back instead, forcing her to move toward you or speak loudly enough for the conversation to continue.

Loyalty to Yourself

Shakespearean scholars describe being true to one’s own self as the perfect virtue for protecting your own image and interests. Whether you are an organizer, free spirit, egotist, gentle soul or a well-considered combination of these negotiator types, the Bard’s blessing is self loyalty.

JB Shelton Photo
JemmaBlythe Alexander Shelton-Spurr (JB Shelton) is a journalist based in Raleigh and Oxford, NC. She writes about children growing up and grownups reinventing themselves. JB teaches ‘Reinvent Yourself in Writing’ at Duke University in Durham, NC. Reach her by e-mail at [email protected]. Angel in Your Mirror: Musings from the Curly Mind of JB Shelton-Spurr is available on

Copyright © 2012 JemmaBlythe Alexander Shelton-Spurr
Copyright ©   2012  The Negotiator Magazine
The Negotiator Magazine  (December, 2012 – January, 2013)