Think of all the times you negotiated today. How many instances did you come up with? Moving beyond the count, for what did you negotiate? If you quickly rattled off answers, good for you!

If you didn’t, I’m not surprised. Nor, are you alone.

What I’ve discovered is that most people find answering the above questions a bit difficult. Not because they don’t negotiate every day; they do. We all do.

However, I’m going to go out on a limb here and posit that, like them, you had a hard time quickly coming up with answers because of how you are defining and viewing the act of negotiating.

It’s probably not a stretch for me to make this assumption: You’ve grown accustomed to only recognizing yourself as negotiating when it pertains to the “big” events and decisions in your life.

And, that’s a problem.

Because if the only times you and I view ourselves as negotiating is during the big moments of life, then what tends to happen is that we miss out on the chance to discover our negotiating strengths and the opportunity to uncover where we need to make some improvements.

When you don’t pay attention to how you negotiate (in all situations), it makes it challenging to become a better negotiator (in all situations).

So, over the next few weeks, let’s explore the art and science of negotiating. Let’s talk about all that is involved with becoming a better negotiator. (There’s always room for improvement, right?) In the process, we’ll most certainly talk about the role of power. And, we’ll dive into some common tips, techniques and tools, as well as the role of time/timing. But you know me, so you know where I want us to start this journey — at the beginning of where almost everything we experience starts: your mindset.

Since I know talking about “mindset” can sometimes feel like you’re walking into a endless void. Let me share how I “define” it so that it’s less abstract and more concrete. Plus, it is this definition that I’m going to use to frame our discussion around having a winning mindset when you negotiate.

For me, mindset is a combination of attitude, energy, and expectations. All of which are elements that shape not only how you approach negotiating, but, really, how you approach everything!

For this post, let’s focus on attitude and expectations.


Perhaps by now, you’ve recalled a moment (small or big) of when you negotiated today. If not, no worries. Think back to a recent memory, then.

What can you recall about the situation, in general? What can you recall about your attitude? Were you excited; were you nervous; were you scared; a bit of all three, or did another set of emotions all together emerge?

What feelings do you remember having toward the other party/parties? Were they positive?

What feelings do you remember having about yourself and your ability to negotiate well?

How do you feel about the outcome? In what way is that the same (or not) in terms of how you felt about the process that led to the outcome?

How important to you was the substance of what you were negotiating? Was it more or less important than your relationship with the other party/parties?

When it comes to negotiating, probing this aspect of your mindset is important because it is how you identify the emotions and baggage you bring into every situation – whether small or big.

We all carry baggage; that’s not the issue. Not being aware of what your baggage is and the related emotions that come with it is the issue, especially since they tend to trigger your behavior and how you respond.

It’s why you may or may not rate yourself as being a strong negotiator.

It’s why you may self-describe as not “liking” to negotiate, even though it is something you do daily.


When you drill it down to its fundamental core, you negotiate because you want (or need) to bring about a result or behavior that is different than the result you have or the behavior you are practicing at the moment. This is true whether you’re negotiating with others or with yourself.

And at the center of the shift required to get what you want or need sits your expectations.

This can range from do you believe deep down you deserve what you want; do you trust others are negotiating in good faith; do you trust yourself to do what is right for you and in your best interests; do you embrace compromise as a natural part of the process; do you seek the solution that is #win/win for all involved; etc.

On the surface, negotiating who goes through the door first may not appear to be the same as negotiating the terms of a job offer or a request by a prospect to reduce your fee. As a result, you may dismiss the value of dissecting how you think and what you expect from a “small” act of negotiating vs. a “big” one. But a negotiation is a negotiation.

Especially if you view the process as the ultimate problem-solving exercise where all parties involved have a want and/or need — and need the other party/parties to make it happen. Even if the “other” turns out to be a different aspect of yourself!

Since you are the same person regardless of the circumstances or the substance of what’s being negotiated or the depth of your relationship to the other party/parties, the mindset you bring to “small” negotiations is the same as what you bring to “big” ones, too. You don’t have an internal switch that says, “Hey, this is big issue…you might want to change your mindset!”

So, when I ask the question posed by the title – “What is a Winning Mindset When You Negotiate?” – my goal is to get you to pause long enough for you to tap into the power of your mindset.

And the answer I hope you ultimately arrive at is this: The best negotiating tips, techniques and tools won’t serve you well or for long, if you’re not maximizing your mindset! Regardless of what’s being negotiated – or with whom.

p.s. Want to join us for the next Comfort Circle™ dinner, the theme of which is negotiation? Click here for the details and to RSVP if it strikes your fancy.

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