Top 10 Characteristics of Competitive Negotiators

By Marty Latz, Latz Negotiation Institute

Competitors aren’t afraid to talk directly about leverage. If you have it, point it out matter-of-factly as you discuss both sides’ needs and alternatives.

One important aspect of negotiating is to understand your and your counterpart’s preferred negotiation styles. I have found it helpful to categorize negotiator styles into three broad categories: a) competitors, b) accommodators and c) conflict avoiders. Of course, these categories describe general tendencies which can change depending on the context and the self-awareness of the individual. Which is your preferred style? To get you to think about it, here are my Top

Ten Characteristics of Competitors:

1. High comfort level with conflict and competition

2. Enjoy debating substantive issues

3. Not great listeners, due at times to significant egos

4. Direct, sometimes adversarial tone, words and body language

5. Relatively impatient and aggressive in their offers and concessions

6. Enjoy openly controlling and framing issues

7. Strong desire to win and not lose

8. Enthusiastic attitude toward negotiations

9. Style can appear stubborn, arrogant and/or untrustworthy

10. Often at ease with risk and pressurized environments

Competitors are also comfortable using relatively risky leverage tactics like walkouts, threats, ultimatums, bluffing and other ways to focus the parties on leverage and other power elements in a negotiation. Examples of negotiators with a competitive reputation include Donald Trump and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

Does this describe you? If so, consider when this approach works best and when you may be better served by resisting your natural tendencies and taking a different approach. Also, if your counterpart is a competitor, adjust your negotiation preparation accordingly.


Marty Latz is the founder of Latz Negotiation Institute, a national negotiation training and consulting company, and ExpertNegotiator, a Web-based software company that helps managers and negotiators more effectively negotiate and implement best practices based on the experts’ proven research.  He is also the author of Gain the Edge! Negotiating to Get What You Want (St. Martin’s Press 2004). He can be reached at 480-951-3222 or

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

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