The 3 C’s of Negotiation


Leaders are not born but developed; their leadership skills, strategies and techniques, learnt rather than inherited.

The single most important of these leadership strategies falls under the umbrella category of ‘negotiation’ which includes: the somewhat obvious, bartering process of tendering for contracts and direct sales and extends to encompass conflict resolution with clients, staff, friends, associates and family members.

Negotiation is by definition a progressive process of compromise and agreement in the pursuance of a mutually acceptable objective.

Successful negotiation within any scenario is dependent upon the strategy and leadership tactics employed of which there three categories, Co-operative, Collaborative or Combative, are referred to as the 3 C’s.


Being co-operative is ordinarily associated with being constructive, assistive and positive. However, the proponent of the Co-operative strategy is not really a negotiator at all but rather views the whole process of negotiation as uncomfortable, awkward and slightly embarrassing.

Arriving at the impasse or cross roads requiring resolution through negotiation is interpreted as being a conflict and not as a series of obstacles which can be amicably and objectively surmounted.

The resultant situation is destructive, erodes confidence, credibility and in the business arena, eliminates profit.

The proceedings, although structured, tend to be hurried and each sign of disagreement met with incentivising a conclusion. In the race to get the whole thing over with, everything that could be conceded or discounted; simply is.

There is clearly an imbalance between the parties not as may be suspected in ‘power’ but in control and ‘motivation’. One is driven to negotiate for the best or most agreeable deal while the other is determined to conclude or resolve the matter.


It may be perceived that being ‘Combative’ is the antithesis of co-operative and in physical demeanour and use of language; this is likely to be true. However, in terms of the outcome they are surprisingly similar.

Unsurprisingly the ‘combative’ strategist is bullish in character although not necessarily aggressive, but believes that to make any concessions or give ground is indicative of weakness and that there’s a lot more to give.

They tend to outwardly portray an air of strength, ostensible authority and intransigence generally perceived as arrogant, coupled with an apparent enjoyment in negotiating and competing for supremacy.

While this overt display of power and control will have degrees of success it invariably comes with collateral damage to customer satisfaction, loyalty and respect, causing deep fissures in the integrity of relationships and businesses.

The combative approach is like a nuclear bomb to a business let alone other relationships if the initial explosion doesn’t kill it the fall out will.


The ‘collaborator’ rather than being synonymous with being a traitor associated with colluding with the enemy, is the most tactical of all the strategies.

They will be inquisitive and attentive in their approach to establish the areas of agreement and those that require negotiation or compromise. Usually open in their body language with calm in their demeanour yet sincere in their commitment to arriving at a resolution but also acutely aware of the best and worst case scenarios for both parties.

In doing so they will act as a facilitator encouraging a gradual inching towards the middle ground of agreement through value assessed concessions by both parties.

The objective of both parties is successful resolution in the realisation that there are parameters and limitations to the concessions available, without ego’s and pride clouding the waters of agreement.

Collaborators achieve the greatest success not only is resolving conflicts and concluding deals but in the levels of client satisfaction and loyalty, stemming from an appreciation at the level of service and attention to detail.

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