Negotiating with turtles_

Negotiating with turtles

Turtles are certainly not known for fast movements, especially when they are on land. For them to feel comfortable, everything has to fit, change is not their strength. What makes a negotiation with a turtle special, and how do you recognize one?

Models for conducting negotiations

All approaches to conducting negotiations (Havard concept, game theory, etc.) require the two prerequisites of transparency and categorization of the counterpart. The classification of people into personality types is not new, there are also many approaches to this. One of the oldest, written ones is attributed to Hippocrates of Kos (ca. 460 -370 B.C.). In the writing „The Nature of Man“ he describes his theory of temperament. He distinguishes between the sanguine (cheerfully active), the choleric (irritable, excitable), the melancholic (sad, thoughtful) and the phlegmatic (passive, ponderous). Even after that, there have always been models that have classified people into type classes: By sign, by season, by animal, etc.

We use the DISC model based on the typology of William Moulton Marston from 1928 in our training courses for conducting negotiations. By assigning attributes to the types, it provides a good overview of the type class of negotiating partners. It is certainly the most widely used model worldwide. From our point of view, it has only one weak point: after two days, training participants have forgotten the meaning of the DISC model: Does C stand for conscientious or confidential?

Already in Hippocrates‘ theory of temperament, animals, i.e. familiar and simple images, were assigned to the individual types. During a research in the field of sales and marketing training, comparable pictures were also used (e.g. Tobias Beck or Anita Herrmann-Reuss) with a simple aim: to quickly and easily categorize the negotiating partner and accordingly find the right buttons for a successful sale.

Ocean of personality types

From the experiences of the last few years, the ADCONIA ocean of personality types has therefore developed for us.

The shark: winner and doer, dominant and assertive

The whale: community type, steady and in need of harmony

The dolphin: discoverer and progress type, initiative and joy-seeker

The turtle: control type, conscientious and risk-averse

As you can see, no new personality types. But combined with the image of the animal, quickly applicable. Try to categorize the people in a pub with friends according to DISG. Probably fails already because of the explanation. It is easier to introduce the animals briefly, e.g. by the example of how they react when they are late for a negotiation.

The shark enters, takes a seat and says: „Well, now we can start!

The whale enters quietly and apologizes several times during the round. He is extremely embarrassed that everyone else had to wait for him.

The dolphin still has the smartphone on his ear – important call and tells a funny story.

The turtle enters the room, apologizes and then explains the reason for the delay. And this very detailed with a clear statement: It was not in her power.

Negotiating with a turtle

But how do you negotiate with a turtle: obsessed with detail and risk-averse?

On the one hand, by giving the seller the time to describe his products in detail and give positive feedback. On the other hand, the risk of losing an order is also clearly communicated. A turtle asks himself whether his position is in danger, whether he can control the results afterwards and how any risk can be minimized. Therefore, turtle exit conditions are important for contracts, they love roadmaps and detailed implementation planning.

A win-win result with a turtle therefore means respect for details and minimizing risks. With a shark, of course, you negotiate differently. More about this in our training courses.


Oliver Kreienbrink

Managing Director ADCONIA GmbH