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"No" | The Most Powerful Word in the Negotiator's Playbook


I’m an Overgiver. Hello!

Not an overgiver like here eat some more and more of my homemade Italian pizza.

No more like, oh you need someone to create a world class program to educate and mentor at risk teen women about entrepreneurism – Hey I have training and development expertise and I’m a women entrepreneur - I can help!

No, you don’t have to pay me.

Oh you’re looking for volunteers to develop a scholarship program for kids in the arts - I love the arts! I used to perform in a National Touring Company performing and kids really need a creative outlet - I can help!

No, you don’t have to pay me.

You need a business leader to spearhead a program that provides mastermind circles for CEO’s at the Chamber and Chair a mastermind as well – Absolutely! I can help!

No, you don’t have to pay me.

Volunteering was one thing. I’ve always been a joiner. An Overachiever. A leader of leaders. You couldn’t possibly take advantage of me because I had every intention of creating an outcome better than you could ever imagined even if it meant overextending myself so you could succeed.


This was easy for me and very fulfilling. And I proved it by creating award winning programs in the community over and over and over again.

It felt really good too. Until the inevitable happened...

A woman I trusted got a big opportunity and asked me to facilitate a focus group for a large call center in town, and we agreed she would pay me $500.


After we completed the project she didn’t pay me and said she "thought I was volunteering on her behalf."

Wait. What?


Volunteering was one thing, but when I realized that I had conditioned the people I developed relationships with in my market to expect something of value from me for free, I knew it had to stop.

Here’s how I pivoted to regain my power, and you can too, while demonstrating that you’re worthy of the investment you request during the negotiation process:

1. “No.”

"No" is the most powerful word in the negotiator's playbook.


Discover it. Then practice it.


Over. And. Over. Again.


Learning to say "No" is about changing behavior and trust me it’s not easy for a "people pleaser" like myself.


Eventually it became easier and I moved away from organizations that continued to expect a lot of me and focused on saying yes to working with people aligned with my social promise and valued my contribution.


Soon I was getting a lot of referrals and winning awards for my client’s results.


2. Manage the Negotiator’s Dilemma and make a decision!



When pressure on a negotiation occurs it’s always a signal that you have to make a decision.


I decided to focus my attention on growing my business. When opportunities came up, I became hyper focused on my business profitability before making the final decision.


If the outcome wasn’t a fair and equitable exchange of value, regardless of the value to the community or the individual making the request, I either negotiated for comparable value or didn’t take the deal.

3. “Alternatives.” Creating value for mutual gain

One of the most powerful things you can learn as a skilled negotiator is how to create an alternative using the variables of price, terms, and conditions that serves all parties involved.


For example, I have negotiated for things like complimentary rooms, the ability to videotape my speaking engagements (before I started hosting my own live events) and getting permission to add value to the audience before, during and after the conference without paying for them. In exchange, I accepted the lower fee they were offering me for that event.


These variables were low cost items for the other party but had great value for me.


“Alternatives” require you to articulate your value and practice creating an equitable exchange of value for every client.



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