How You Can Learn From These Top Negotiators

Whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur or a seasoned professional, the ability to negotiate is a skill that will serve you well in your career.  Throughout history, some of the worlds’ greatest leaders have showcased their negotiation skills in ways that have changed the world.  Before stepping out into the boardroom, look to these business-savvy negotiators of the past for your inspiration for today. 

Benjamin Franklin: Be Honest

Often considered to be America’s first entrepreneur, Benjamin Franklin had one simple piece of advice for other entrepreneurs and businessmen- Be honest.  In terms of negotiation, Benjamin Franklin said, “Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.”  His success was built on his ability to speak the truth to his clients while doing so with ambition.  The art of negotiating is not about deceiving the other party, but rather coming up with a solution that is beneficial for both parties.

J.P. Morgan: Be Persistent

If you want to learn how to negotiate, look no further than one of the greatest American businessmen in history, John Pierpont Morgan.  His relentless persistence led to ending the Panic of 1893.  He came up with a solution for getting the country out of a serious depression, but his plan was disregarded by President Grover Cleveland.  Fortunately, J.P. Morgan wouldn’t take no for an answer and eventually convinced the president to get on board with his idea.  If you are set on not taking no for an answer during a business negotiation, search for creative ways to get people to say yes like J.P. Morgan.

Abraham Lincoln: Gain Their Trust

While Lincoln isn’t remembered as a great entrepreneur, he was a great businessman throughout his life.  He managed a store, ran his own law practice, and became the first and only president to hold a patent.  During his business days and his time as president, he employed the art of persuasion.  He never tried to coerce people into doing something, but rather he approached them with kindness.  He knew that people were much more influenced by someone they trust.  Establishing trust is critical to achieving success in any negotiation.

P.T. Barnum: Get Their Attention

Oftentimes the most difficult part of a negotiation is getting the other person to actually listen to what you have to say.  That’s why it is important to devise a way to spin the most attractive parts of whatever it is you are pitching.  People will be intrigued and want to hear more.  P.T. Barnum was an American businessman and circus pioneer and he was an expert at capturing attention.   He was willing to do whatever it took to get people’s attention, and once he had it he focused on giving them something they couldn’t resist.  The same is true in negotiations.  If you start your pitch with something unique, interesting, and captivating, people will perk up and listen to you.