Negotiation Mojo: Tips on Gaining Confidence at the Negotiation Table

At Cardinal Partners, we understand the value of owning some serious negotiation mojo. But not everyone in the world is born a world-class negotiator, and there are many brokers out there who succumb to stress and anxiety during commercial negotiations. If this describes you or someone you work with, we’ve got some good news for you. Believe it or not, science holds one of the most important keys to low-stress, high-confidence negotiation. According to the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, learning how to harness – and subsequently unleash – certain hormones in your body is one of the most effective methods of gaining confidence at the negotiation table.

The best part about this is that you don’t have to alter your diet or pop pills to achieve these beneficial body chemistry changes. All you have to do is strike a power pose. As ridiculous as that may sound, there’s actual science to back it up. But before you go putting on a show for the others in the negotiation room and pulling a muscle in the process, let’s first take a deeper look into why it works, and how to make it work in your favor.

Here is what is known: People who display strong leadership skills have higher than average testosterone levels and lower than average cortisol levels. Testosterone, as you probably already know, is related to dominance and willingness to take risks. High levels of cortisol are related to high levels of stress. Therefore, achieving high testosterone levels and low cortisol levels bring the best possible chemical balance conducive to attacking commercial negotiations on the best possible footing.

In the same way that smiling when you’re not feeling happy can release endorphins in your body that make you feel better, striking certain “power poses” in preparation of commercial negotiations can lower stress and lift your confidence. Here are some suggestions for pre-negotiation preparation. Remember not to pull any of these moves in front of those on the other side of the negotiation table. If you do, you risk intimidating them – and that’s the last thing you want to do if you’re looking to achieve a harmonious negotiation agreement.

  • Take a full 15 minutes prior to negotiations to physically prepare.
  • Close your office door for privacy or find a quiet space where you can be alone.
  • Put your hands on your hips and stand with your feet spread wide apart, lifting your chin and holding your head high.
  • Alternate this pose by sitting down, kicking your feet up onto a desk or table, and placing your hands behind your head.

Some other important thing to bear in mind when preparing for commercial negotiations: exhaustion can sap your negotiation mojo like nothing else. Intense negotiations can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. Prepare to be exhausted and take scheduled breaks during the negotiation process to give yourself time to rest, regroup, and think. For more helpful tips on preparing for commercial real estate negotiation, visit and download our free Prepared to Win-Win™ negotiation worksheet.

Real estate transactions can be fraught with frustration and pitfalls.

Sometimes the hardest part turns out to be working with your broker, the person who is supposed to help you through the complexities. Veteran commercial real estate broker and client advisor John Culbertson discovered that brokers’ interests aren’t always aligned with those of their clients. He realized there was a better way to advocate for clients and get the deal done.


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