The negotiation process is a lot like dating. You need to figure out what your potential partner’s style of communication and personality is before you can effectively communicate with them, which will help in moving forward towards an agreement that both parties can get behind!
Based on the article “Change the Way You Persuade” by Gary A. Williams and Robert B. Millers, we’re exploring each of these negotiation styles in detail to help you understand how best to approach each one and increase your chances of a favorable outcome. If you haven’t read the introduction yet, go get caught up first, and then come back to join us as we learn all about negotiating with Thinkers.
Thinkers are cerebral and intelligent, and they pride themselves on their ability to outthink and outmaneuver the competition. They tend to be quiet and stiff, not known for their social skills. Driven by a need to retain control rather than a need to innovate, they can be risk-averse and resistant to change.
Thinkers are analytical and methodical. They are excellent problem-solvers, but their focus on efficiency can sometimes make them seem cold and impersonal. When it comes to social interactions, however, they can be a bit stiff and lacking in finesse.
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How They’re Convinced
If you’re trying to persuade a Thinker, you need to be prepared to answer a lot of questions and provide a detailed justification for your proposal. It’s best to be upfront about your concerns and present all the information they’ll need to make a decision. Thinkers are very risk-averse, so they’ll want to know all the potential downsides of your plan before they make a decision. The best way to win them over is to show them that you’ve thought through every possible outcome and that you’re confident in your plan.
They’re also very analytical, so you’ll need to provide a clear and well-reasoned argument for why your plan is the best option. However, Thinkers will sometimes circumvent their usual decision-making processes if they feel a bargain is in their best interest. So if you can offer them a low-risk opportunity that will save them time or money, you may be able to win them over.
Trust is the foundation of any good relationship, and that goes double when you’re trying to persuade a Thinker. These leaders are highly independent people who value their ability to come to the right conclusions, so you need to plan on giving them ample time and space to mull things over.
Thinkers, who live to study the world around them and find patterns, will never forget a bad experience —including if they feel misled or find your information to be unreliable. So make sure your recommendations are truly the best option, or you run the risk of losing your credibility. They’ll figure out the best outcome on their own, so refrain from drawing conclusions for them. Ultimately, if you want to persuade a Thinker, the best thing you can do is give them the respect they deserve and allow them to reach their own conclusions on their terms.
The way a Thinker typically operates is by taking contradictory points of view to consider every possibility. This can feel extremely confusing or frustrating, but don’t worry – this is a good indicator that they’re devoting extensive mental resources to exploring the topic!
Thinkers are concise with their words and it may be impossible to tell which way they’re leaning until that person finally arrives at a decision. Resist the urge of rushing to break the silence, and instead, allow the Thinker time to digest the information and sit with their thoughts.
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While the silence of a Thinker can feel unnerving, it’s important to remember that this is often a good sign. This means that the person is taking the time to explore all the possible outcomes and giving your proposal serious consideration. The best way to win over a Thinker is by being prepared to answer all their questions, providing a clear and well-reasoned argument, and respecting their need for time and space. Trust that they’ll come to the best conclusion on their own, and you’ll be well on your way to successfully persuading this type of negotiator.
This is the second negotiation style within a multi-part series based on Gary A. Williams and Robert B. Miller’s article, Change the Way You Persuade (Harvard Business Review, published May 2002).