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When you’re trying to get a new project approved, it’s important to know how your boss negotiates. Do they like all the details upfront, or do they prefer to only know enough to understand the gist? Do they make decisions quickly, or does it take them a while to mull things over? If you want your project to have the best chance of success, you need to pitch it in a way that caters to your boss’s negotiation style. In this special blog post series, we’ll discuss the 5 decision-making categories of executives and give you tips on how to pitch your projects accordingly!



The art of persuasion is an essential skill for any good leader. It’s also one that can be difficult to master, especially when you’re speaking with someone who has authority over your job security or future career prospects. But once you know how to hack the system, it’s actually quite easy to convince the person across the table —and it all starts by understanding how their brain works.

Gary Williams and Robert Miller (authors of Change The Way You Persuade) surveyed over 1600 executives across the industries; everything from automotive, retail, high tech, etc. It was discovered that all executives fall into five key decision-making types.

What does this mean for you? Well, your boss is one of these 5 types. Once you learn their decision-making style, it’ll be like uncovering a map that shows you exactly how to convince your boss to get on board with your idea.


The 5 Negotiation Types

There are five negotiation types, identified by key character traits:


Charismatic bosses are creative, enthusiastic, and charming. They’re always looking for new ideas, and they have the ability to get everyone excited about their projects.


A Thinker is someone who needs time to contemplate before making a decision, and who is calculated in their actions. They are very analytical and often well read.


A Skeptic boss is demanding and critical, always scrutinizing every detail before making a decision. They can be difficult to please and can come across as quite rude.


A Follower mentality is both cautious and budget-conscious. They like to make decisions that are consistent with how they’ve responded in the past and live life in the middle of the pack.


Not to be confused with a “controlling” boss, a Controller type is likely to be difficult to persuade, as they like facts and won’t be rushed into making decisions before they’re ready. They may seem dismissive of others and can be quick to jump to conclusions.


The Benefits of Understanding Your Boss’s Negotiation Style

We’ve all heard the saying, “it’s not personal, it’s just business.” However, when it comes to negotiating with your boss, things can often feel very personal. After all, your livelihood depends on getting the best possible deal. Fortunately, understanding your boss’s negotiation style can increase your chances of success.

We’ve found that people can greatly improve their chances of having proposals accepted by determining how a particular executive will receive information. It’s important not only to focus on what is being said but also on how it’s being said and how it’s likely to be perceived by the other side of the table.

1. Pitch your idea in a way that is most likely to be successful.

By understanding how your boss tends to negotiate, you can pitch your ideas in a way that improves your chances of capturing their interest. For example, if your boss is only concerned about the facts, but you share a passionate presentation with a heart-wrenching story of how this problem affects the community of your second-cousin’s-aunt’s-friend…you’ve just wasted your breath.

On the other hand, if you know that your boss is the type of person who is most likely to be persuaded by an emotional appeal, then you can focus on sharing stories and data that will tug at their heartstrings.

Either way, the key is to customize your pitch so that it’s tailored specifically to your boss’s negotiation style. By being attuned to your boss’ negotiation type, you can make sure that your ideas are presented in the best possible light – and that’s bound to put you on a favorable path.

2. You’ll avoid wasting time and energy by pitching ideas that are unlikely to be accepted.

By understanding your boss’s negotiation style, you can avoid pitching ideas in a way that is unlikely to move forward to the next round. For example, if you know that your boss needs to take their time before making decisions, there’s no point in trying to rush them into a time-sensitive opportunity that needs an on-the-spot answer —no matter how lucrative it might be. If they feel rushed, even the best idea will automatically be turned down.

Another example is if your boss has a strong personality, it can be daunting to pitch an idea that opens the floodgates for a full-fledged interrogation to ensue. While this type of boss can be intimidating and it may feel hopeless to even try, understanding how they operate can help you tailor your pitch in a way that is more likely to get through to them. Imagine how much better it will be when you know what to expect and you’re fully prepared to handle their response – because you understand exactly how they operate.

3. You’ll be better equipped to handle negotiations with your boss and will stand a better chance of getting what you want.

If you’re armed with the knowledge of how your boss likes to negotiate, you’ll have a leg up on those pitches – and will stand a better chance of getting a positive outcome. After all, if you’re aware that your boss is the type who needs to feel in control of a situation, you’ll know that catering to his ego is much more impactful than citing how this idea would positively impact the environment.

On the flip side, if you’re dealing with a boss who is only concerned with the company’s perception by its shareholders, then you can focus your pitch on how this idea will make the company look good and benefit the bottom line.

By understanding your boss’s negotiation style, you can make sure that your pitch is aligned with what they care about – and that’s bound to increase your chances of success.


Final Thoughts

In conclusion, taking the time to learn about your boss’s negotiation style will pay off in big ways. Not only will you be able to pitch your ideas in a way that is more likely to be successful, but you’ll also avoid wasting time and energy by pitching ideas in a way that won’t resonate. And, perhaps most importantly, you’ll be better equipped to handle negotiations with your boss, and will stand a better chance of getting what you want. So before the next time you’re getting ready to make a pitch, make sure you know your boss’s negotiation style – it just might be the key to success!

Join us as we conduct a deep dive into each of the 5 negotiation styles in the following blog posts.


Do you have an ever-growing list of innovative ideas, but haven’t had the chance to make them happen? We’d love to have someone like you as part of our Paint EZ franchising team! We are always looking for bright forward-thinkers motivated to bring their creative ideas to life. Learn more about the Paint EZ opportunity, or send us an email at franchising@paintez.com


This is the introduction to a multi-part series about negotiating styles, based on Gary A. Williams and Robert B. Miller’s article, Change the Way You Persuade (Harvard Business Review, published May 2002).

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