Negotiating Like a Pro

Negotiating Like a Pro

How well do you negotiate? Yes, let’s face it. We have to negotiate every day—sometimes for a new house, with our spouse for a trip to Mexico versus Paris, with our kids about what they will wear to school, and of course, at work with suppliers, clients, and bosses (read as “I need time off or a raise”). Can you learn to negotiate a little better? Sure you can! I thought I could use some tips, so I sought out advice and have put together these “Three Tips for Negotiating Success.”

  1. Understand that everything is negotiable. Too often, we think that something is not on the table like a higher salary, more time off, exclusivity in a deal, closing date, or terms of payment. If you don’t ask, you won’t get. Don’t disillusion yourself into thinking something is non-negotiable. Ask the question and move forward from there.
  2. Be confident and ask for what you want. Just like you need to understand that everything is negotiable from their end, if you don’t ask for what YOU want, you will never get it. And be confident when you do. I taught my daughter early on that, when you walk into a room, fancy hotel, or someplace you feel you don’t belong or shouldn’t be, walk like you own the place, say “hi” to people, and walk past them. Have confidence—or appear to. The same goes for negotiating.
  3. Not paying attention can kill you. You need to pay attention in any negotiation. That includes listening. Don’t talk too much—listen. Take great notes and document everything so, when you leave the room, you can plan your strategy before the next negotiation meeting. And make sure you read every detail before you sign a deal. The devil, as we know, is in the details.

Remember, the people you are negotiating with need to be rational. If they are bullies, erratic, mad, or “crazy,” step away. You cannot negotiate with those types of people. I hope these tips help you win a negotiation today. If you have any other ideas, please feel free to share.

© 2018. All rights reserved.


  1. Hi Brent,

    Good introductory piece on negotiation, which, as far as I’m concerned, is THE defining skill for fundraisers, whether for soliciting sponsorships or philanthropic donations.

    I’ve been running major gift negotiation workshops at AFP conferences for over a decade now, in addition to teaching negotiation skills in marketing courses at Concordia University and McGill University. I wanted to suggest a couple of resources that you might want to refer to in a future blog post.

    The best compendium of research and reaching on the subject is the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School. Their monthly bulletin is a little pricy, but I’ve subscribed to it for years. However, they also have a plethora of free resources as well as a blog. They can be found at this web site:

    I also strongly recommend the work of Dr. Robert Cialdini, Psychology professor at Arizona State University in Phoenix. He’s written a number of books on the subject, all of them enjoyable reads in addition to being great sources of information and ideas. But the most significant of them is his first book: Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion ( In this book, Cialdini presents and details six key factors that should be mastered if one is to be a persuasive negotiator: social proof, reciprocity, liking, scarcity, authority and consistency. I tell my students that it’s one of those books that should be on every manager’s bookshelf (along with Catch-22). It’s more than likely already on yours!

    Have a great week.

  2. Shaun,
    Thanks so much again for reading, but more importantly for your feedback and the suggested supporting information. What great resources… and by the way I love Catch-22… so much to learn over and over again from that novel.

    Thanks again, have a great week as well. Brent


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