Confidence – the Number One Trait for Successful Negotiation

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Confidence is defined as  a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers or of reliance on one’s circumstances; faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way; the quality or state of being certain.

Confidence is the number one trait you need to be successful at negotiation in every area of your life.  If you are not confident when you walk into that job interview, the interviewer is going to know it and you will be looked at as a weaker candidate.  When you sit down to negotiate that contract or business deal and you lack confidence in your position, the other side will pick up on that and use that to their advantage.  If you want your child to do their homework, eat their dinner or clean their room and you don’t have confidence behind it, they will see it and may give you a hard time about doing what you asked or defy you altogether.

There are examples that come from all areas of your life that I could share with you here.  Think about things you may have wanted to accomplish or points you wanted to get another party to take on but were unable to because you lacked the confidence to present it in a way to get buy in from the other party, no matter who it was.

Many people struggle with this concept of confidence.  For instance I used to lack the confidence to speak in front of people.  In fact, I was petrified to speak in front of people.  I used to get red in the face, stutter, shake and turn red in the face if I had to get up and speak. For those of you who may have seen me speak or watched a video of me speaking, you may doubt that to be the truth.  That’s because now when I speak, I speak with confidence and power.  I did not get that way overnight.  I remember sitting in a seminar many many years ago when I was still in the military and pregnant with my daughter.  It was some type of motivational workshop for women. There was a woman presenter onstage speaking powerfully and confidently. I remember thinking how I wish I could speak to groups and that I’d never be able to.

I believed that lie for a long long time.  Unfortunately we cannot simply flip the expert  switch to turn on out expertise in anything.  It comes with time, experience and training.  A few years ago I decided I wanted to become a professional speaker.  So I joined Toastmasters to get a foundation and understand how to create a speech.  I built my foundation and then started attending different speaking programs and getting coached to speak.  Then I took the coaching and drilled those skills to become an expert.  They say it takes 10,000 hours of training to become an expert at something.

So how can you increase your confidence and start becoming an expert in negotiation?  The following 3 tips will help you become more confident and more powerful.

1.Your mindset is your greatest asset. Confidence first comes by believing in yourself.  If you doubt your abilities, take some time to work on that doubt.  Turn that doubt into optimism at the possibilities ahead of you.  As you gain experience, you will gain more confidence.

2. Confidence in negotiation is built through experience.  Get experience by going to a yard sale and negotiating things on a smaller level to get comfortable with the negotiation process.  Do not accept the price they give you.  Always ask for a better deal or make a counteroffer.  This will help you feel more comfortable and gain more confidence negotiating, and it will save you some money too!.

3. Mary Kay Ash used to say “fake it until you make it.” If you aren’t feeling that confident in a given situation, act as if! No one else knows and if you convince yourself that you know, they will think you know as well.  Simply said, when you act as if, your body doesn’t know the difference between real or imagined so you can actually convince your body that the confidence is actually there.

Take these tips into your daily negotiations and watch how your confidence grows.  Strengthen your mindset, train your skills, act as if and you will accelerate your success.

Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
Veteran negotiation and contracts expert Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez, author of “Think Like a Negotiator,” has over 30 years of experience crafting killer deals both stateside and internationally, many in excess of $100 million. She’s currently the CEO of Dynamic Vision International — a specialized consulting and training firm that helps individuals hone negotiation skills — as well as a nationally regarded keynote speaker, session leader and panelist on the Art of Negotiation. Eldonna may be reached online at

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