“New Advice – Understand ‘Whys’ – How To Win More And Increase Negotiation Skills” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“In negotiation and life, knowing someone’s ‘why’ exposes their self-interest and source of motivation.” – Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert

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People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

Because negotiators negotiate in a particular way to reach their desired goals, understanding their ‘why’ and what motivates their actions becomes imperative for successful negotiation outcomes. That is why their ‘why’ is so important. Assessing it leads to the negotiation style they might engage in and uncovering where the value lies.

There are five basic negotiation styles negotiators use when negotiating: competing, collaborating, compromising, accommodating, and avoiding. Each style reflects different motivations and behaviors, and successful negotiators can identify which style will be most effective and alternate between them if needed.

In this article, I explore the style of negotiation negotiators might use during negotiation and highlight how identifying their ‘why’ can assist you in increasing your negotiation skills.

Competitive negotiators pursue their own needs and give little concern to others about their goals.

They use the win/lose approach – they only win if you lose. This negotiation style focuses on quick and short-term results and quickly achieving short-term goals. Their desire for success motivates them, which is their ‘why.’

Collaborative negotiators focus on win-win solutions.

They seek and encourage teamwork. A negotiator can use this negotiation style in a powerful or weak position. Understanding a negotiator’s ‘why’ will grant you insight into why they are motivated to use a collaborative approach to the negotiation.

The compromising style of negotiation can become difficult for long-term talks.

In that negotiation style, negotiators seek to split the difference. Sometimes, they do so too quickly instead of seeking solutions to challenging positions. They forgo uncovering the ‘why’ in the negotiation.   

Some accommodating negotiators tend to be overly obliging.

They believe by giving the other negotiator what they want, the opposition will readily reciprocate. The challenge with that strategy becomes evident when the accommodating negotiator is unaware of why such a style might embolden their opposite.

Avoiding negotiator types attempts to evade interactions that might lead to conflict.

They also tend to be less assertive and willing to settle for a smaller amount of their desired outcome. In this case, if that negotiator understood their ‘why’ and what it means, that might inspire them to engage in a more assertive negotiation style.

Identify your ‘why’ for the negotiation.

Knowing the real reason you are negotiating, your ‘why,’ can significantly benefit your efforts and increase the probability of a successful outcome. The reason is that some hidden actions stemming from your conscious mind may become unhinged by thoughts deriving from your unconscious awareness. Thus, actions originating from your unconscious desires may become misaligned with your conscious efforts in the negotiation.

Consider thoughts outside your immediate perspective to seek a deeper understanding of why you will negotiate. Keep asking yourself, why am I seeking the outcome I want? And to that answer, ask yourself again, why did I think of that, and what does it mean?

Once you have undertaken that process through several iterations, rest. Later, consider what you may not have pondered.

The greater you delve into this process, the greater insight you will have about your sources of motivation. That will allow you to become better prepared to negotiate while increasing your negotiation skills.

Identify the other negotiator’s ‘why.’

It is vital to identify the opposition’s ‘why.’ From that, you can develop the best strategy to use, competitive, collaborate, compromise, accommodate, or avoid during your interactions. Without it, you may flounder, trying one approach and then the next.

To identify your opponent’s ‘why,’ try:

1. Ask why they are negotiating with you. Listen intently to the response and how it is delivered. If they hesitate or stammer, it may indicate that they have not given it much thought; shame on them. It could also imply that they are guarding that information.

Regardless of their response, probe by asking why they want what you will be negotiating for. You will gain significant insight about that negotiator and how to better assist them in achieving their goals as you help yourself achieve yours.

2. Do not believe the other negotiator’s response. I’m not suggesting you consider them to be outright liars. I suggest you look at their motives from the perspective that they may not divulge the complete truth. Doing that will allow you to think more deeply about the other negotiator’s interests and what may be behind their ‘why’ and motives. That will enable you to think of more ‘whys’ per their reason to negotiate.  

3. Display genuine empathy or not. Empathy is another tool you can employ to assist in uncovering a negotiator’s ‘why.’ You can use it best when you sense a degree of forthrightness streaming from your counterpart. Be mindful not to place yourself into a sheltered state of comfort – you may become encased in it, disallowing you to execute your ‘why’ for the negotiation.

You can also display a lack of empathy if you sense the other negotiator is toying with your emotions. Doing that will signal that you are not falling for their ploy. It will also signal that you can be challenging to negotiate with if they continue trying to mislead you.

4. Throw roadblocks up to test someone’s ‘why.’ When considering someone’s ‘why,’ do not consider them separate entities; consider the environment influencing their perspective; there may be hidden insights about that person’s motivation in that disclosure.


Understanding a negotiator’s ‘why’ and identifying their negotiation style(s) can provide valuable insights into their motivations and tactics. That knowledge can help you prepare for negotiations more effectively and increase your negotiation skills while enabling you to respond appropriately. That will also enhance your chances of achieving your desired outcome. And everything will be right with the world.

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://megaphone.link/CSN6318246585

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

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