Negotiating With Peers

In my last post I focused on negotiating with clients with some reference to negotiating with employees.

However, in this post, I’d like to share negotiation tips you can use in situations where no hierarchies exist.

Here are some negotiation tips to keep in mind next time you have an upcoming conversation regarding a difficult issue with coworkers and colleagues.

It’s Not All About Your

Often with little intention, most of us are self-absorbed and focused on what we want. We stay within that mindset and fail to consider the impact a conversation might have on our colleagues.

The first step to negotiating effectively with your coworkers is getting out of your head and understanding that the conversation is not all about you.

If you are engaging in a tough conversation and the words ‘I need’ or ‘I want’ are floating around in your head or the other person, then you are in for a battle. When you use the word “I”, it introduces uncertainty in the mind of the other person. And uncertainty is the mother of fear. Fear activates the amygdala, causing you or the other person to stop thinking clearly.

Instead of focusing on yourself, turn the conversation around and focus on the person or people you’re talking to. Let them get the conversation going by encouraging them to share their ideas on the subject to be discussed.

When you’re deferential to what the other person says, they are more likely to return the favour when it’s your turn to speak.

Ask permission to share

After you’ve let your peer lead the conversation, summarise your understanding of their ideas so that they know you have listened and to ensure that you have understood the meaning of what they have said. 

This is important because what one says is not always what another hears. Misinterpretation precedes misunderstanding and can be prevented by ‘complex reflections.’ A complex reflection is where you repeat some of what has been said, adding on what that comment means to you.

By doing this the other person will feel heard. If there is any misunderstanding, take the time to clear it up. Now is the time to ask permission to share you thoughts on the topic at hand.

End your conversation with silence

After you’ve said what you want to, stop talking and let that silence remain for a moment. This moment of silence gives the other person space to reflect upon what you just said.

Count to 10 in your head if needed, to stop yourself talking. Your coworker will almost certainly fill the void. If they don’t, it’s because there is something else on their mind. To get past this impasse, you can prompt a response by using an open question: “What have I missed?” You could also use a label like “It seems like I might have confused you”. Either way, it’s a subtle way to ask them what they think about what you just said.

Don’t forget about personality types

Whenever there’s a disagreement among team members that can’t be resolved, it can be because of a mismatch between personality types. By determining which personalities are on your team, you will have an easier time getting buy-in during difficult conversations.

Below I will outline the six different PCM (Process Communication Model) personality types. There are many different ways of grouping personalities but after completing a PCM training I found this model to be most useful.

The concept is that we all have a component of each of the types listed below but we have a dominance of 1-2 that take precedence.

When you recognise a personality type and you know that it is very different to your own, you can still communicate by using the language the other person will relate to.

As a personal example, I am predominantly a Thinker and my partner is a Persister. I used to communicate in facts and logic but now I ask my partner’s opinion prior to offering any logic. It really helps create a foundation for good communication.

If you want to learn more about PCM go to their website:


Imaginers tend to be introspective and prefer time alone to process information. They are reflective, imaginative and calm. They prefer clear, concise direction without emotion or intimidation.

Words to listen for: not sure, wait for a moment, hold back, easy pace, my own space, need time to reflect, don’t want to rock the boat.

Tips for communicating with an Imaginer:

“Read this article, reflect on it and prepare two questions for the group.”

“Tell me what’s on your mind?”

“Imagine two ways to solve this problem.”

Their currency of communication is imagination and the prize of an effective communication is solitude.


With Persisters, options count. They are often dedicated, conscientious and observant. They like to share options, beliefs and judgements. They prefer to weigh in with the opinions and values, and want decision-making to be consistent and meaningful.

Words to listen for: I believe, in my opinion, we should, respect, values, integrity, admiration, commitment, dedication, trust, virtue.

Tips for communicating with a Persister:

“What do you believe we should do?”

“What’s your opinion on this?”

“What’s most important to you?”

Their currency of communication is values and the prize of an effective communication is loyalty and commitment.


Promoters take in the world by experiencing situations and making things happen. They are externally motivated by goals and tend to be firm and direct which can be off putting for others. They prefer precise, task-orientated direction that leads to action.

Words to listen for: Let’s start, make it happen, go for it, the bottom line, let’s go.

Tips for communicating with Promoters:

“Make it happen.”

“Tell me what you are going to do next.”

“Take the lead.”

“Tell me your plan.”

Their currency of communication is charm and their prize for effective communication is self-sufficiency.


Harmonizers experience the world through their emotions, with guidance from the heart. They have an ability to nurture others and are good at creating harmony. The prefer a caring and supportive leader who joins them in their work.

Words to listen for: I feel, I am comfortable with, happy, sad, love, care

Tips for communicating with Harmonizers:

“It’s OK to ask for what you want.”

“Your comfort matters to me.”

“I care about how you feel.”

“I appreciate you being here.”

Their currency of communication is compassion and their prize for good communication is family and friendship.


Rebels make contact with the world through unfiltered likes and dislikes. They tend to be spontaneous, creative and playful. They have an ability to see the humour in things and enjoy the present. They prefer a non-directive, unstructured  environment that invites each person to take on as much responsibility as they can handle.

Words to listen for: I like it, I don’t like it, I want it, I don’t want it, wow!, sounds like fun!

Tips for communicating with Rebels:

“Wow this stuff is hard!”

“I don’t like it either.”

“You’ve got to be joking.”

Their currency of communication is humour and their prize for good communication is spontaneity and creativity.


Thinkers make contact with the world by gathering data, thinking about it, analysing it, connecting it, and drawing logical conclusions. They have an ability to think logically; take in facts and ideas and synthesise them. They prefer to weigh in with their ideas and want decision-making to be fair and logical.

Words to listen for: I think, options, data, time frames, who, what, when, where, facts, information.

Tips for communicating with Thinkers:

“What is your analysis?”

“What are the top three points you want me to understand?”

“What’s the first thing you can start working on?”

Their currency of communication is logic and their prize for good communication is data and information.

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