9 rules for negotiating like Ivanka Trump

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Ivanka Trump has negotiated many deals as the executive vice president of development and acquisitions for the Trump Organization.
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Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Ivanka Trump has had a lot of practice negotiating.

As the executive vice president of development and acquisitions for the Trump Organization, Trump convinced others to let her redevelop the historic Old Post Office Pavilion on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC, she wrote on Time’s advice website, Motto.

“I also led the acquisition of the iconic 800-acre Doral Resort & Spa from my hospital bed after giving birth to my daughter, Arabella. (Speaking of children, I get to hone my negotiation skills each day at home; no one negotiates more aggressively than a toddler – and I have two!),” she wrote.

The founder and CEO of the Ivanka Trump Collection attributes her success as a negotiator to “meticulous preparation, an even temperament, and a genuine love of the game,” and she has shared some of her rules for negotiation that anyone can follow to get what they want.

Here are some of our favorites:


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Set your goals in advance

Whether you’re looking for a raise or want to negotiate more flexible work hours, Trump says that knowing what you want to achieve before heading into a negotiation is “the golden rule” for negotiating – but most people ignore it.

“Without a plan, you allow the opposing party to define your goals instead of the other way around,” she wrote on Motto.


Try to understand the other person’s objectives

“The most valuable thing you can do is correctly identify the other person’s top priorities,” Trump wrote on Motto.

Oftentimes the other person’s goals aren’t at odds with yours, and you’re able to give them what they want so they feel as if they’ve won, she says.

“Yes, negotiating is about money and the bottom line, but a lot of times it’s much more emotional and complex than that,” she wrote. “Realizing that the economic outcome may not be the other party’s top priority gives you more chips to play with and will enable you to achieve better results than you may have anticipated.”


Negotiate in person, preferably on your own turf

Don’t negotiate by email, Trump says. “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.” And it’s easy to misjudge tone over email, which could be an issue, she says.

“I always prefer to speak face-to-face, typically in my own office, where I’m most comfortable,” Trump wrote on Motto.


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Pay attention to your body language

“The way in which you carry yourself, even when seated at a desk, matters,” Trump wrote on Motto. She notes that most of our communication is nonverbal and that messages are often conveyed through our facial expressions, gestures, posture, and audible elements like sighs.

Her suggestions: Don’t fidget. Don’t pick your nails or tap your foot. Don’t sit on the edge of your seat because it could make you look overeager. Don’t hunch over and drum your nails because it could communicate aggression or frustration. Don’t cross your arms protectively because it could make you appear meek and intimidated.

“Regardless of how fast your heart may be beating, sit upright, make eye contact, and focus on breathing evenly,” Trump wrote.


Listen more than you speak

“When people are uncomfortable – and many people are when they have to negotiate – they start rambling as a way to fill the vacuum of silence,” Trump wrote on Motto.

“Some of the strongest negotiators I know just sit back and listen. The less they engage, the more likely the other person is to slip up and offer information they otherwise would have kept guarded,” she said.


Don’t let things get personal

During a live Facebook Q&A, Trump said that sometimes the best way to keep your personal feelings out of a negotiation is to use an intermediary who can begin the negotiating for you.

She said one of the keys to good negotiation is to be introspective and ask yourself if you’re the best person to negotiate a particular transaction.

“I’ve had deals over the years where I just haven’t had good chemistry with the person across the table from me,” Trump said. “So I’ve said to one of my brothers, ‘You know what, you will be more effective than I will.’ And that takes a level of confidence.”


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REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Be bold

“You don’t get what you don’t ask for,” Trump wrote on her website.


Consider your relationship

“I think the biggest mistake people make when they think about the topic of negotiation is that it’s purely transactional,” Trump said during her Facebook Live Q&A.

She said this happens in cases like negotiating your cable bill or buying a car. But most of the time negotiations lead to relationships, and often by “trying to get every last nickel off the table, you actually damage the relationship, and it ends up costing you much, much more in the long run,” Trump said.

She said that sometimes the best thing you can do is lose a less relevant negotiation so you can create goodwill, which will help future negotiations and collaborations.


Be prepared to walk away

If things are getting too heated or you can’t seem to get on the same page regarding terms, you can always suggest taking a few days to think about things and reconnect, Trump said.

“Negotiations can get back on track pretty quickly when you allow people the time to cool off,” she wrote on Motto.