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Never Negotiate A Contract Without Lipstick

A couple Sundays ago, I was negotiating a real estate deal.

My realtor, who has really only seen me in jeans and a t-shirt, suddenly looked at me and said, “Joanna, you look nice. What’s the special occasion?”

I said, “I’m negotiating a deal. I never negotiate a deal without looking my best and certainly never without wearing lipstick.”

You see, even though I strive for win-win during negotiations, I know that, ultimately, negotiations are war.

And just as American Indians painted their faced before war, I put on the nice clothes, the heels, the make-up and the lipstick.

In my mind, looking like a million bucks during a negotiation does the following:

  • It says I am serious about this deal.
  • It says I respect the other side and have prepared myself for the meeting.
  • It makes me feel confident knowing that I look good.
  • I eliminate the possibility that the other side doesn’t make me seriously because of look and/or dress.

What if you don’t wear lipstick, you say? That’s okay.

Lipstick is a metaphor for preparing yourself physically and mentally to negotiate a great deal. Use whatever (jacket, suit, heels, hat, purse) makes you feel confident and strong.

So the next time you’re prepping to negotiate a contract, make an offer, or make a pitch, pay attention to how you look and feel.

Guys have their power ties and us gals have our lipstick.

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Image: Nicole Mays via Flickr, Creative Commons

Founder/CEO and self-proclaimed Chief Troublemaker of Matrix Group International, Joanna Pineda is known for her visionary big-picture thinking and drive for excellence. Combining her broad liberal arts background and passion for technology, she started Matrix Group in 1999, today a leading interactive agency. As a trusted advisor, Joanna inspires and motivates her clients and employees alike to simply, “be better” with her mantra being: Do or Do Not. There is no try!


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  1. Whoa! Although I agree you should prepare yourself mentally for a negotiation, you should NOT consider it a war. Successful negotiations are win-win, both parties are trying to find a solution that provides the best deal for both sides. Educate yourself about how to negotiate!

  2. Hi Deborah. While I always try to negotiate a win-win deal and never, ever do anything to make a negotation adversarial, I still think it’s important to prepare yourself mentally for a tough negotiation. Hence the war analogy, but it’s clearly best to avoid a “war.” Thanks for the reminder!

  3. For those of us that look downright silly wearing lipstick, a pair of Jimmy Choos definitely do the trick. Like you said, Joanna, it’s all about what makes YOU feel confident.

  4. I couldn’t agree with you more. Lipstick (as a reality or an analogy) is a girl’s best friend under any circumstance. And even for those who work in science or academia, people DO take notice of your appearance.

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