What's Your Negotiation Superpower?


Negotiation has been a hot topic of research in the field of Industrial/Organizational psychology for many decades. And effective negotiation is key to a legal career, from winning a case to successfully settling mediation, or getting a raise, legal professionals need to negotiate.

BuzzFeed quizzes are fun—and will to tell you what type of bread you are, but finding out I’m sourdough hasn’t had any tangible life-benefits (yet). At Hire an Esquire, we’re using Industrial/Organizational psychology principles and research not just for personal exploration, but to provide actionable information to match you with the best job/organization and to navigate your legal career with confidence.

On our platform, we use research-backed psychometric assessments as one component of matching you with the best roles and work environments. This quiz is a peek into how we’re using psychometric assessments to improve the job/ hiring search— and a fun way to discover where your negotiation strengths lie and how to take advantage of them.

About this Quiz and Why it Matters:

Negotiation can generally be separated into two types:

1. Integrative: the parties may place different values on various issues, and resolutions can occur through cooperative information exchange processes.

2. Distributive: the goals of the parties are in direct opposition, leading parties to engage in competitive behavior directed at maximizing their share of the outcomes.

Generally, people will be more successful if their individual characteristics match their environment defined as “person-environment fit”. In the context of negotiation, a person is more likely to be successful if their individual characteristics match their negotiation scenario “person-environment fit”.

Research has shown that how you rank on the personality trait “agreeableness”  (One of the 5 traits in the Five Factor Model of personality) is central to your success in distributive or integrative negotiations. Agreeableness is defined as individual differences in cooperation and social harmony. Those who are high in agreeableness are warm, friendly, cooperative, and shown to have greater economic outcomes in integrative negotiations. On the other end of the spectrum, those lower in agreeableness can be cold, competitive, callous, blunt, and are shown to outperform those higher in agreeableness in distributive negotiations.

For example, someone who is predisposed to aggressiveness and manipulation may succeed in a distributive context while these same characteristics can be a liability in an integrative negotiation, where building trust and rapport with the opposing party is key.

For a legal career this may mean if you’re characteristics match that of integrative negotiations, you are better (and happier) at legal planning, policy and doing deal work.  The work you do here may help to prevent future distributive negotiation situations for your clients. If you’re characteristics match that of a distributive negotiator, you may be happier, more successful and prevent the escalation of something that could have been resolved collaboratively, if you wait to become involved until a situation has escalated beyond a collaborative resolution.  

What do you think? Does your negotiation style mesh with your current area of practice - or where you’ve felt the most comfortable and successful when negotiating?

Dimotakis, N., Conlon, D. E., & Ilies, R. (2012). The mind and heart (literally) of the negotiator: Personality and contextual determinants of experiential reactions and economic outcomes in negotiation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 97(1), 183.

Sharma, S., Elfenbein, H. A., Foster, J., & Bottom, W. P. (2018). Predicting negotiation performance from personality traits: A field study across multiple occupations. Human Performance, 1-20.