Negotiate More Money with These Simple Tricks

Want to negotiate for more money? Think creatively and differently about how you approach the bargaining table.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #380

Jennifer Lawrence is ferklempt. She’s the star of the amazingly successful Hunger Games movies. For those of you who don’t know anything about Hunger Games, just think of a more competitive version of the Food Channel. The highest-paid actress in the world, Jennifer made $52 million in the first eight months of this year. That’s enough to buy rugs made of real human hair—like Donald Trump’s used hairpieces (he doesn’t sell those cheaply).

The Sony security breach, however, showed that despite the large absolute numbers, she and other Hollywood women are still paid less than the men. Why? Because she figured she was already making enough, so she didn’t play hardball in the negotiations .... because deep down, she wanted everyone to like her.

Jennifer and I have a lot in common. Except that I’m not an actress, haven’t starred in anything successful, wasn’t discussed anywhere at Sony, and can’t afford a rug made of polyester, much less a Donald Trump toupee special. Plus, Donald Sutherland has never given me flowers … but we are both paid less than Bradley Cooper, and we both hold back in negotiations because we want to be liked.

I’m taking a negotiation class at Harvard Law School and have been working on this very issue. Let me share what I’ve learned. Jennifer, if you’re listening, today’s episode could make you millions.

Want to Be Liked?

There’s nothing wrong with being liked. When negotiating, it may well be one of your goals. But, Jennifer, you and I have been a bit confused. We’ve both been assuming that in order to get people to like us, we have to give them everything they want. Why do we assume this? It’s totally not true.

In a negotiation, everyone in the room knows that you have potentially competing interests in some areas, and areas of overlap in others. Think about negotiations you’ve been in. If you walk away liking or disliking the other person, it almost never has to do with whether they gave you every last thing you wanted.

Liking Is About the Process, Not the Outcome

What changes people’s feelings about you is how you treat them during the negotiation. It isn’t whether you negotiated an extra $100 million for yourself; it’s whether you treated them with respect as you negotiated the extra $100 million.

Separate the people issues from the problem at hand.

If people feel like you’ve listened to them, considered their points, and taken their interests into account, they’ll like you. They may not be happy with the outcome of the negotiation, but they’ll like and respect you.

This is called separating the people from the problem. You preserve the personal relationship with your conduct and with your interpersonal behavior. Then you approach the problem—your negotiation—with the full force of the awesome Mocking Jay rebel leader. 


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.