Think Like A Negotiator – Negotiation Tip – Look the Part

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November 28, 2013
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January 29, 2014

Would you hire this person to represent your company?  Maybe if it was in a certain industry but what about to represent you to investors or represent your brand to sponsors?  Would you hire someone dressed like this for a corporate position if they showed up to a job interview?  Would you show up to a job interview like this?

 Plumbers Image

Image, it’s an important thing to consider when thinking about negotiation. As my good friend Lauren Solomon of LS Image says “Image is Everything.”   Lauren is one of two image experts who helped me on my journey of transition out of the Air Force.  For 23 years I wore two colors; blue and camouflage. I had no idea what to wear in the “real world” because I spent 23 years in a military uniform. Looking the part is important for many reasons. One reason is your first impression.  People unfortunately make judgments about us based on how we look.  If you don’t agree that how we look plays a big part in how we are received, take a moment to review the “fashion report card” from Sunday night’s 2014 Grammy Awards:

Anytime there is a major celebrity event; the Grammy’s, Oscars, Golden Globes, or any other award show, it will promptly be followed by the fashion report card. How did the stars dress according to the fashion critics?  Did it impress or depress?  The critics give grades ranging from A to F on the various fashions choices the celebrities choose to wear.  We wonder why women struggle with self-image so much and why so many women have eating disorders or other issues around their appearance.  With “report cards” such as this and the photo shop wizard that makes people look like something that can never be in reality, the expectations of appearance rate high on the relationship and business building scale.

So exactly why is this an important consideration in negotiation?  We are a visual society and right or wrong we judge people based on appearance.  If someone shows up to a business meeting unkempt and scruffy looking, they most likely will not be taken seriously or thought of in a negative manner.  It is highly important to consider your appearance for the particular situation you are going into. It’s very difficult to recover from a bad first impression.

A 20 year old I knew of was referred to a restaurant for a job interview.  She showed up in older jeans and a baggy t-shirt with a silly saying on it.  Needless to say she didn’t get the job and wondered why.  She was experienced and would be a perfect fit for that restaurant. However she did not take the time to look the part of a professional in that industry. If that is how she represented herself in the interview how would she represent the restaurant?  You must consider looking professional and sharp for the environment you are presenting yourself in.  For a restaurant that might be nice pants and a button up shirt vs. jeans and a t-shirt.  For a business environment that might be a suit vs. business casual.

Bottom line.  When planning for negotiation, plan the entire presentation, including looking the part in your appearance.



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

1 Comment

  1. Naomi Carmona-Morshead says:

    Image is such a visual stimulation that even the wrong shade of color can prevent someone from buying a product.

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