“Let us never negotiate out of fear.  But let us never fear to negotiate.”
–John Fitzgerald Kennedy

“Let us move from the era of confrontation to the era of negotiation.”
–Richard M. Nixon

 Two presidents from opposite sides of the aisle understood the value of negotiation—and what a careful, but necessary, dance it is. 

This  issue is about negotiation—when to do it, how to do it, and how to make it a “win-win” situation for both sides!

We spoke with three remarkable people who shared some stellar advice about the “art” of negotiation.

Linda A. Willett

Linda A. Willett is Senior Vice President,
General Counsel, and Secretary for

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey
(Horizon BCBSNJ).  

According to Linda, “We have to negotiate
all the time in our daily lives, and I am a person who
always sees another path to resolve conflicts.”

Linda believes that people who are good at negotiation:

  • Like other people.
  • Respect their point of view.
  • Are very confident in their own point of view (but know when to “roll it out” and when to “keep it tucked in”).
  • Know how to connect the dots.
  • Have developed a thick skin.

Negotiating is really about knowing who you are, says Linda.  “I come into a new environment and think it’s critically important to build good relationships, listen to the people you’re working with, and learn the corporate culture before you speak up.  Transparency, honesty, and candor are all important for someone who’s negotiating.

Here’s Linda’s negotiation checklist:

  • Have a healthy respect for others.
  • Express your differences in professional ways.
  • Take the high road.
  • Be very ethical and forthright in all communications and interactions with others.
  • Have a solid argument.
  • Express it well.
  • Be passionate about your point but don’t cross the line into being unprofessional.
  • If the person across the table doesn’t accede, then back off and re-strategize
  • And know when to give in.

John Hoffman

John Hoffman, President of Designed Performance,
a sales and negotiation management consulting firm, intrigued
us when he said that most people aren’t even aware of
the fact that they’re negotiating.

For John, negotiation is an influence technique that involves trying to reach an agreement through mutual trade-off.

John’s rules of negotiating are:

  • Come to the negotiation prepared.
  • Anticipate a good outcome for both parties.
  • Prioritize potential trade-offs.
  • Use persuasion before negotiation (you may not have to trade anything off).
  • Gain commitment and develop an action plan.

John was very clear that you must take the emotion out of the equation:

  • Decide what you’re willing to trade and what you’re not willing the trade.
  • Analyze what the potential value and consequences are of giving something away.
  • Create “elegant negotiables” (something of high value to other party and low
    cost to you).
  • Look for mutual gain.

Hon. Loretta A. Preska

Judge Loretta A. Preska is the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and a former nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  Judge Preska’s job is to help parties reach a negotiated settlement.  Judge Preska makes it easier by doing something that most people who negotiate don’t quite understand—she listens.  She asks thoughtful questions and then truly pays attention to the answers.

According to Judge Preska, “I allow the clients to vent. They have to tell you why they think they have been wronged.  It’s therapeutic for them.  Only then will they listen to what I think are the strengths and weaknesses of the case.”

The Judge explained, “In responding to clients, I don’t necessarily say ‘you’re right.’  I do say I understand how you might feel that.  Or, I understand why you might feel like that. You can’t say ‘you’re right’—you can express concern that a jury might not see it the same way.  Or, you can express concern to them about the legal issue. It is actually the hardest work I do but the most satisfying.”


TIffany Shlain

This month, we’re spotlighting the extraordinary filmmaker and director, Tiffany Shlain—a woman who has produced her own career with aplomb.  Honored by Newsweek as one of the “Women Shaping the 21st Century,” Tiffany is a filmmaker, artist, founder of The Webby Awards and co-founder of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences.

Tiffany asks wonderful questions in her latest production.  Have you ever faked a restroom trip to check your email?  Slept with your laptop?  Or become so overwhelmed that you just unplugged from it all?  CONNECTED: An Autobiography about love, death and technology, Tiffany’s funny, eye-opening, and inspiring new film, takes audiences on an exhilarating rollercoaster ride to discover what it means to be connected in the 21st century.

Tiffany confided that the true measure of success to her is doing what she loves to do.  “I have always tried to visualize what the dream situation is and I write it out.  I own my own calendar every week.  I plan my week and I will it into existence.  Have the courage to follow your dreams, learn what it’s like to fail, have moxie!”

Her next move?  “Making the world better is what’s important to me.  I want to make films that I believe in—which motivate and activate people to be more conscious of how they live in the world.”  You can find Tiffany on Twitter (@tiffanyshlain) or more about the movie on Facebook at

Until next time,
The Team at “Producing Your CareerTM

Producing Your CareerTM is a division of Bedlam Productions Inc.

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Categories: Negotiation


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