How To Negotiate More Effectively


“If you can’t go around it, over it, or through it, you had better negotiate with it." — Ashleigh Brilliant

When you don’t get what you want, don’t get angry.  Compliment, disarm, and clarify instead.  Rather than focus on your anger, focus on getting what you want. 

In Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy Revised and Updated , Dr. David D. Burns writes about complimenting, disarming and clarifying over focusing on your anger.

Here are keys to negotiating more effectively::

  • Find a way to genuinely compliment.  This helps reduce friction.
  • Find a way to agree.  This takes the wind out of their sails and helps build rapport.
  • Clarify and assert what you want. 

I think the key is staying focused on what you want rather than expressing your anger.  Getting angry will escalate emotions and put you in a less resourceful state.

Summary of Steps
According to Burns, here are ways to negotiate more effectively:

  • Step 1 – Compliment
  • Step 2 – Disarm
  • Step 3 – Clarify

Step 1 – Compliment. 
Instead of telling them off, compliment them on what they did right.  It’s an undeniable fact of human nature that few people can resist flattery even if it’s blatantly insincere.  However, since you can find something good about them or their work, you can make your compliment honest. 

Step 2 Disarm
Disarm them if they argue, by finding a way to agree with them regardless of how absurd their statements are.  This will shut them up and take the wind out of their sails.

Step 3 – Clarify
Clarify your point of view again calmly and firmly.
Repeat the above techniques over and over in varying combinations until the other person gives in or you reach an acceptable compromise.

Additional Recommendations
Burns writes:

“Use ultimatums and intimidating threats only as a last resort, and make sure you are ready and willing to follow through when you do.  As a general principle, use diplomacy in expressing your dissatisfaction with his work.  Avoid labeling him in an insulting way or implying he is bad, evil, malignant, etc.  If you decide to tell him about your negative feelings, do so objectively without magnification or an excess of inflammatory language.  For example, “I resent shoddy work when I feel you have the ability to do a good professional job” is far preferable to ‘You mother —-! Your —- work is an outrage.’”

The key is to stay diplomatic and avoid using insults and threats

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Photo by Andyrob


  1. “Disarm them if they argue, by finding a way to agree with them” is a killing one. I use it all the time and it works perfectly with kids, bosses, customers, … wife.. 😉
    good stuff!

  2. Hey Alik

    I agree. It’s like deciding up front to find common ground, rather than deciding to focus on the differences.

  3. I believe my daughter, 7 years old, beat me to reading this article. She is sure one smooth calm negotiator, gets that from her day. All charm. It’s wonderful.

    Now… to put the ideas in this post into action for me too!

  4. @Jannie – Thanks for stopping by. It sounds like your daughter is a great model to learn from. Some kids just have all the right moves.

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