YOU need successful negotiation skills to deal with every relationship you have, be it with your boss, colleagues, business contacts, friends, spouse or acquaintances.

To negotiate effectively, you need to first understand what kind of personality type you are dealing with.

The common personality types you will encounter can be divided into five categories.

Try and match the description of each to someone you know:

* Bullies - they use threats, demands and intimidation to get what they want;

* Extremists - they have an "all-or-nothing", "take-it-or-leave-it" attitude;

* Intimidators - they provoke or intimidate by making over-the-top demands;

* Avoiders - they sidestep the issue or procrastinate. They tend to postpone decisions, change the subject or avoid the topic; and

* Touch-me-nots - they withdraw emotionally, get confused or show physical fear when confronted.

Negotiate the right way

You may have heard people say that when you stand up to a bully, he usually backs down.

But how do you deal with the other personalities?

Knowing which approach works best with which personality is your key to better negotiation experiences.

Here are 10 secrets to successful negotiation that will work with most personality types:

1. Grab the bull by the horns.

Especially with bullies, you need to be assertive right from the word "go".

Set boundaries on what is acceptable, and leave no doubt as to where you draw the line.

Create a negative consequence that outstrips the benefits that bullies think they will get from their bullying behaviour.

2. Face the issue.

If someone is behaving in a way that is not acceptable to you, confront him and name the behaviour.

When you make him aware of how he is behaving, it causes him to be more conscious of his effect on others and helps to pull in the reigns.

Always offer alternative options so that he does not lose face. Make comments such as: "Why don't we work together on this"

3. Play by the rules.

Never be pressured into unacceptable agreements. Insist on fair, reasonable agreement terms that are beneficial to all.

Be clear about what you will accept and continue to negotiate only if fair procedures can be agreed upon.

4. Counter with silence.

Silence is a most effective tool, particularly against extremists. Silence spells power. Say absolutely nothing.

With no response from you, the other party has no fuel to keep the confrontation going.

Discomfited by your silence, he will start to backtrack, becoming more reasonable.

Another tack is to cut the exchange short by saying: "I'll talk with you further on this when you stop attacking me."

5. Change the subject.

Pretend not to hear the demand or attack. Rather than remain silent, bring the conversation back to the real problem, as if the attack never happened.

6. Deflect.

When the other party makes unreasonable demands, do not object outright.

Ask him how he arrived at his position instead. Highlight the need to see where he is coming from so that you can understand his needs better.

People usually appreciate the effort made to understand them, and will become more reasonable.

7. Turn criticism to your favour.

Invite the other party to contribute his criticism to the exchange rather than take it personally.

Refocus the criticism into a problem-solving activity that will make the other party feel he has contributed positively.

For example, you can say: "What do we need to do so this doesn't happen again?"

8. Highlight the consequences.

When the other party rejects a reasonable settlement, show him the consequences of his decision.

Present it as a non-threatening factual report. You are merely stating an obvious consequence that he cannot take personally.

9. Be inquisitive.

Asking questions gives the other party nothing to attack but invites him to justify his position or vent his feelings. This gives you more information to work with.

Ask "what", not "why" questions. "What" questions warrant factual responses. "Why" questions are judgmental and make the other party defensive.

Compare the following:

A: Why did you do that? (Confrontational) B: What was your motivation for doing that? (Information-seeking)

10. Offer reassurance.

This is the best approach to take with Avoiders and Touch-me-nots. Make them feel safe enough to contribute.

Empathise verbally with their feelings, listen actively and respond with phrases such as: "So, you're saying, or you feel that".

This will help to build their self-esteem and make them realise they have something to contribute that is worth hearing.

The real secret is to know your "enemy". When you understand how to deal with the different kinds of people you interact with daily, you will have the upper hand in reaching well-negotiated settlements that are in the interest of all concerned.