Space to breathe, by the talented Melissa Maples.

As the year draws to a close, things are getting more hectic. Deadlines loom. The pressure grows. Shopping lists and to-do lists grow, the days shorter.

Earlier this evening, I walked behind a petite woman holding four shopping bags, clomping down on NYC street as she talked on the phone. She said, “yeah, so now I just need to go pick up another gift, go home, shower, change, write a few emails, then head out again.”

Stressed out.
Sound familiar?

A friend wrote me today she’s doing all she can to stay calm and productive so she doesn’t have a meltdown.

I hit reply: DITTO!!

During times like these, it’s easy to lose focus of the big picture, hard to find space to breathe and NOT lose patience (okay, so I’m mainly talking about myself here).

This requires your negotiation jiujitsu.

Say no to that party invite, the one you’re mostly meh about, but hesitant to turn down because you don’t want to upset anyone or afraid of what they’ll think of you. Say no to a needlessly materialistic and equally onerous holiday chore. Everyone will survive without one more ugly Christmas sweater, one more silly trinket on the tree, one more sugar-laden treat in the god-forsaken name of the holidays.

Sometimes the best thing is for you to be selfish. Be selfish about your time and space, so you can stay healthy. Your physical, mental, emotional health comes first before obliging to things that don’t give you joy and peace.

When you have joy and peace, the world will have joy and peace. Have faith in this.

Tonight I’m home instead of eating steak at a restaurant to do something I’ve been wanting to do all year: a compilation of some of the best negotiation advice I’ve read online in 2014.

The Power of Ask by James Altucher

When the Hare Krishnas asked for money, they would get nothing but NOs.

But when they gave a little flower first, they got billions.

Once you give something in advance, the brain naturally wants to give back and show that it is a good member of the herd.

But here’s the trick: if you ask immediately, then I personally think it’s a little too slimy. Like the Hare Krishna trick.

The key is to do a “Give” and then forget about it. And then a month, a year, a decade later, come back with the “Ask”.

A Give creates potential energy in the future. An Ask turns the Potential energy into Kinetic energy.

I hope I’m getting that physics analogy right.

Create as much potential energy as possible every day with many Gives. Store up your Asks for when you need them. Read more here

Dealing with Difficult People? Get Your Foot in the Door (or How Amy Poehler got her way with George Clooney) by Program on Negotiation at Harvard

“I knew from my years of working both sides of being on camera and behind the camera that it was better to ask George Clooney’s people, ‘Would you mind if Amy sat next to George when her name was announced?’ And of course”—because the request was innocuous—“they would say ‘No,’” that they didn’t mind. “It’s just too much to be like, ‘Can she sit on his lap?’” Poehler said.

Having secured permission from Clooney’s people to pull up a chair, Poehler said she approached his table at the appointed time and asked him point-blank if she could sit on his lap. “And he was like, sure,” she said, laughing. Though Poehler didn’t win the award (or a kiss), the moment got a big laugh.

Poehler’s anecdotes demonstrate not only the role of chutzpah in comedy, but also the value of preceding large requests with small ones in negotiation. Why is the foot-in-the-door technique so successful? Because human beings have an innate motivation to appear consistent, according to Cialdini. The desire to behave consistently—rather than erratically—is so powerful that, research shows, it even drives us to do things that fall outside our comfort zone. Read more here

You’ll Never Get Paid What You’re Worth (And That’s OK) by Terri Trespicio

“My clients always ask me, ‘Why can’t I convince people to pay me what I’m worth?’” says Benun. “This is the wrong question, because it sets this up as a pricing problem, which it isn’t. It’s a marketing problem, and it has a marketing solution.”

The key, says Benun is to separate what you do for other people from what it means about you. In other words, take your ego out of it. This blew my mind, and the doors off everything I used to think about rates and salary.

It was also a huge relief because I’ve spent too much time worrying that either I wasn’t worth much, or I was so good no one could afford me. “The conflation of personal worth with professional acumen is also very childish,” adds Benun. The “love me daddy” approach to winning business infantilizes you — it treats the proposal (or salary or raise) like an allowance, one that you “deserve” because you were a good girl. Ick. Read more here

What if the Gender Studies are Wrong? by Victoria Pynchon of She Negotiates

The proposition that men negotiate far more than women do has also been challenged by research that controls for differences in goals or status in addition to gender. One study using law students as social science lab rats found no negotiation performance differences based on gender. Being a law student, it seems, eliminates a woman’s purported hesitancy to negotiate. Could it be that other studies also failed to control for status? That fewer women negotiated because fewer than 20% of all leadership positions in the U.S. are filled by women? Because women, by and large, have lower status jobs than most men do?

… these academic “findings” about the differences in the genders are destined to become self-fulfilling prophesies just as “girls are bad at math” once did.
Read more here

So there you have it:
– Negotiation insights from Hare Krishnas and Amy Poehler,
– on the pitfalls of “good girl” / “love me daddy” mindset for negotiation, and
– thinking twice about oft-quoted gender studies that depress us women and not really help us achieve negotiation prowess.

My wish is that these insights serve and help you achieve negotiation prowess in 2015.

One more before I go — I’m an agnostic who selectively believes in superstition only when it pleases me. (Are you rolling your eyes yet? Bear with me for a hot second here.) Numerology, for instance. The individual numbers in 2015 adds up to 8 (2 + 0 + 1 + 5).

According to, year number 8 signifies “achievement, your year to make great strides in business, employment, promotions, monetary compensation, and/or the accumulation of possessions. It is your harvest time.”

I wish you great harvest in 2015.