Breakdown: The Five Types of Negotiators Outlined

While the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) is a useful tool for analyzing conflict styles, it can also be used to analyze negotiation styles. By preemptively using the TKI in relation to negotiations, it can reduce the number of conflicts that could occur and the severity of the conflicts.

TKI Chart
TKI Negotiations Model
Chart from

The two types of behavior (assertiveness and cooperativeness) pair with different traits to create five types of negotiators.


Competitors are assertive and uncooperative. There is a strong desire to satisfy the individual’s needs vs. a weak desire to satisfy the needs of others. Competitors negotiate to win. They know when they’re right and won’t hesitate to let others know that their decision is best. It is best to use a competitive negotiating strategy when making a quick decision for an emergency, defending an unpopular opinion and protecting oneself from others who seek to take advantage of nonassertive/noncompetitive behavior.


Accommodators are unassertive and cooperative. They are the opposites of competitors. During a negotiation, an individual will often sacrifice the fulfillment of his or her own needs in order to satisfy the needs of another person or a group. Accommodators can and will use negotiations to build stronger relationships. They will negotiate to solve another person’s or group’s conflict instead of their own. It is best to use an accommodating negotiating strategy to avoid a disruption. Accommodators will acquiesce when they know they are wrong to show that they are reasonable/cooperative, and when an issue being discussed is much more important to another person than it is to them.


Avoiders are unassertive and uncooperative. The need to satisfy themselves, and others, is very low. They do not like the negotiation process at all, and tend to avoid it if they can. They will sidestep negotiations and/or postpone them until a better time, and will withdrawal from any negotiations that seem threatening or aggressive. Avoiding a negotiation is a good strategy to use when more information is needed to make a decision, other issues are more pressing and different parties can better handle the situation.


Collaborators are assertive and cooperative. They are the opposite of avoiders. Collaborators will negotiate to find a solution that satisfies their concerns. Collaboration between two or more parties can involve exploring a disagreement to gain a new perspective. Use a collaborative negotiating strategy to find an integrative solution, merge different perspectives together and build commitment to a solution by including other points of view and concerns.


Compromisers are moderate in both assertiveness and cooperativeness. Negotiations are done in order to satisfy all involved parties as much as possible. When negotiating, compromisers aren’t as aggressive as competitors, but are more assertive than accommodators. They will address an issue instead of avoiding it, but they will not negotiate in depth as much as a collaborator will. It is best to compromise during a negotiation when each party has equal power and is strongly committed their idea, and competition and/or collaboration has failed. Negotiators should also compromise to reach a temporary or permanent solution when time is a pressing factor.
By understanding the different ways people negotiate, the amount of conflict that occurs can be reduced. If an individual knows what type of person they will be negotiating with, they can plan and/or adjust accordingly.

Some types of negotiations are better than others. A compromiser and a competitor will have an easier time negotiating than a collaborator and a competitor. Over the next few months, The Ambulatory M&A Advisor will provide more articles outlining circumstances, real-world examples and how to handle them.

Batista, E. (2007, January 1). Conflict Modes and Managerial Styles. Retrieved December 1, 2014.
G. Richard Shell. Bargaining Styles and Negotiation: The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument in Negotiation Training. Negotiation Journal. April, 2001: 155-174.
G. Richard Shell. Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People. New York. Penguin, 1999.
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Leonard J Marcus. Renegotiating Health Care: Resolving Conflict to Build Collaboration. San Francisco. Josey-Bass, 1995.
Thomas, K., & Kilmann, R. (2009, January 1). An Overview of the TKI. Retrieved December 1, 2014.

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