Most negotiations are the beginning—or the continuation—of a long-term relationship, and there’s nothing worse than being in a relationship with someone who feels like they’ve been screwed.
Called a “natural born dealmaker,” by her father, Donald, Ivanka has earned her reputation as a formidable negotiator. Specializing in acquisitions and development for The Trump Organization, she outmaneuvered industry titans to score the storied Old Post Office Pavilion in Washington, D.C.—and she led the deal to land the Doral Resort & Spa while nine months pregnant with daughter Arabella.
Ivanka credits meticulous preparation, an even temperament and a genuine love of the game as some of her secrets to success.
Here, a few of her top tips for—graciously—getting what you want:
Know what you hope to achieve prior to negotiating. It’s the golden rule, and the one most people fail to heed. Without a plan, you allow the opposing party to define your goals, instead of the other way around.
Often, the best negotiations result in a deal that benefits both parties—where both sides get what they want. There are times when you simply want to go for the jugular, but, as a guiding principle, you want the other person to feel pleased with the outcome, even if you are the clear victor. You never know when you’ll have the opportunity to work together in the future.
The most valuable thing you can do is correctly identify the other person’s top priorities. Often, they’re not at odds with yours; you can give them what they want and they feel like they’ve won, at little cost to yourself. Yes, negotiating is about money and the bottom line, but a lot of times, it’s much more emotional and complex than that. Realizing that the economic outcome may not be the other party’s top priority will enable you to achieve better results than you may have anticipated.
The more you know, the stronger your position. It’s tough to argue with someone who can back up her assertions with facts and a smart, articulate argument.
You don’t get what you don’t ask for
It’s a cop-out that benefits the weaker party by allowing them to avoid a direct confrontation and take more time to craft a strong response to their weak position. I always prefer to speak face to face, typically in my own office (home court advantage!).
When people are uncomfortable, they start rambling as a way to fill the space. Some of the strongest negotiators I know just sit back and listen. The more they don’t engage or discourage the other person from feeling uncomfortable, the more likely the other person is to slip up and offer information they otherwise would have guarded.
Don’t fidget. Don’t pick your nails. Make eye contact. Check in with your body and ask: Am I sitting upright? Do I look overeager? Is my posture communicating aggression when that’s not going to help—or do I appear meek and intimidated?
Regardless of how high the stakes, you have to be mentally prepared to walk away. Be it a job offer or a rent renewal, you may need to let it be known that you’re willing to walk if you can’t get on the same page regarding terms. If things get too heated, it’s often a good idea to stop a discussion and say, “we’re obviously not on the same page. Let’s take a day or two to think about things and then revisit.” Negotiations can get back on track pretty quickly when you allow people the time to cool off.
Go into a boutique and try to get a discount. Call the phone company and threaten to switch providers if they won’t give you a deal on your service going forward. When the stakes are low, it’s a great time to work on your skills. Plus, it can be fun. As I said earlier, you don’t get what you don’t ask for.