Correctly assess the negotiating partner with profiling

If you want to unlock the door of your neighbor, you should use the neighbor’s key and not your own. The same goes for negotiations: You always have to prepare for your negotiating partner. Most of the preparation time is spent on the factual level, on the product, the service that is involved. But it is at least as important that you adjust to your negotiating partner. Try to find out what makes them tick, what they like and what they don’t like. Are they people who like to get straight to the point in negotiations, or is the personal level more important to them?
So-called personality preference models are a very important tools to understand what kind of person my counterpart is. These help to better assess the negotiating partner. But be careful, the point is not to pigeonhole someone, but, as the name suggests, to recognize their preferences and cater to them.
Anyone who combines the information obtained about their negotiating partner with these personality preference models will have completely new possibilities in the negotiation. Well-known models such as MBTI, DISC, bio-structure analysis, STAR, or the HDI model provide the opportunity to link facts about people with preferences, i.e. likely behaviors.

The following story shows how effective understanding the other person can be:

I was once hired by a 60-year-old sales manager of a supplier to help negotiate with a 34-year-old buyer working for an automobile manufacturer. Clearly, there were few commonalities on the emotional level, only differences.
So we prepared the next conversation together and after the meeting my customer said “Mr. Gamm, everything went as planned. I didn’t allow myself to be provoked and I didn’t flinch when he kicked my shin. But the best thing for me was that we even laughed together once at the end.” That shocked me. I didn’t expect laughter to be worth mentioning as an emotional experience. For me, laughter is a completely normal part of communication. The negotiation, however, stalled.

So we analyzed the buyer and, among other things, also took into account how he presented himself on a social media platform. In a photograph he appeared smiling seductively at the camera with his hair slickly gelled and his shirt unbuttoned. Half of his contacts were stewardesses, models, and other attractive young women. So it was clear that he was relatively uninterested in a 60-year-old sales manager.

So we were looking for an attractive and extremely clever 35-year-old woman from the salesman’s company who now had to take over his role in the negotiation. After the first meeting, it seemed that she had negotiated with a completely different person than the sales manager had before her. The buyer was suddenly no longer dominant and action-oriented, but completely relationship-oriented. The nice, young lady wanted to conduct further negotiations with such a personable and courteous conversation partner.


You should establish personality analysis as an integral part of every negotiation preparation. That way you can find out what makes your negotiating partner tick, what his weaknesses and strengths are, and how you can deploy your strategy and tactics.