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Four Negotiation Strategies


Disciplines > Negotiation > Negotiation articles > Four Negotiation Strategies

Yielding | Compromising | Competing | Problem-solving | See also


There are four common strategies that are used in various ways. Here's details.


A yielding strategy is to not negotiate. A person who yields accepts the first offer or assumes the price is fixed.

A common reason a person yields is to avoid inner discomfort from thoughts of taking advantage of someone else or the fear of breaking social rules that say you must accept what others say as truth. Another reason is fear of some form of conflict or other unpleasantness.

People who use the yielding strategy typically assume other people are more important and powerful than them, and so abase themselves by giving in at the earliest opportunity. They put gaining the approval of others well above getting what they want from the situation.


A compromising strategy strategy seeks some fair balance where both parties appear to get an equitable deal. A typical tactic people used by people who adopt this approach is to 'split the difference', which is not necessarily the best way when the other person is using tactics such as highballing or asking for all needs, wants and likes.

People who use compromising tend to see others as worthy and equal to them, and hence seek fair play. They realize that nobody can get everything they want and seek an equitable arrangement. As with yielders, they care about what others think about them but have higher self-esteem and  see themselves as equal to others rather than inferior.


A classic and more aggressive approach is to treat the negotiation as a zero-sum game where their goal is to get as much as possible at whatever cost to the other party.

People who take this approach often assume they are superior or feel inferior but need to appear superior. They may well use any of the negotiation tactics, including the more deceptive ones, and consider this is not at all wrong (after all, it is a negotiation). They may well generally distrust others, seeing the world as a dog-eat-dog place where you deserve what you can get and also deserve to lose what you lose.


The problem-solving approach is closer to Compromising than Competing in that it starts from a position of respect for the other party. A person using this approach does not see the other person as competitor or threat, but rather as a person who has legitimate wants and needs, and that the goal of negotiation is less to make trades and more to work together on an equitable and reasonable solution.

In particular, a problem-solver will seek to understand the other person's situation, explain their own, and then creatively seek a solution where both can get what they need. They will listen more and discuss the situation for longer before exploring options and finally proposing solutions.

The relationship is important for a problem-solver, but mostly in that it helps trust and working together on a solution rather than it being important that the other person necessarily approves of the first person.

See also

Negotiation mistakes, Negotiation articles


Beach, L.R. (2005) The Psychology of Decision Making, Sage Publications


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