Top Negotiation Tactics from the Cast of ABC's 'Shark Tank'

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ABC's "Shark Tank" - Season Six
Michael Desmond/ABC via Getty Images
By Lauren Lyons Cole

NEW YORK -- When it comes to negotiation, certain guiding principles can make the process more effective and less painful.

To really master the art, it pays to develop a personal style that works best for you. The cast of ABC's "Shark Tank" has done just that, turning negotiation into entertainment television watched by millions of people. We asked each of the sharks to share his or her fail-proof negotiation tactics, they answers came back mirroring the unique personalities on the show. Keep reading to find out their default approach to negotiating. It just might give you some ideas.

Top Negotiation Tactics from the Cast of ABC's 'Shark Tank'
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Top Negotiation Tactics from the Cast of ABC's 'Shark Tank'

Generally considered outspoken, Mark Cuban's top negotiation tactic is to be quite the opposite. So, what's his go-to method?

"Shut up," he says. "People get nervous when there's silence. Always make eye contact. The more confident you get the easier it is to have eye contact."

It didn't always come naturally for him. "But now you see me do it up there all the time," he adds.

Fans can attest that Cuban's expectant stare is common during negotiations on "Shark Tank." His approach demonstrates that body language can be more powerful than words when negotiating.

Barbara Corcoran is equal parts sugar and spice, combining her easy smile with tough love when interacting with entrepreneurs on "Shark Tank." Her approach to negotiating is simple, and yet not one that just anybody could pull off.

"Make people like you," she says definitively. "If you can make people smile and laugh, you've got them halfway there."

Corcoran's warmth and charisma make it difficult not to like her and harder to contradict her terms in a discussion. She's also known on the set of "Shark Tank" for having an endless supply of one-liners. No wonder she's been so successful.

Referred to as "Mr. Wonderful" by "Shark Tank" fans, Kevin O'Leary has found that his no-nonsense approach to investing is sometimes met with resistance from his fellow sharks. But his thought-provoking negotiating style allows entrepreneurs to choose, which he says often works out better for them.

"My negotiating tactic is to simply give them more options," he says. "That's how I tend to get deals done. I try to be very creative in my structures. I think I've introduced more structures than anybody else on 'Shark Tank.'"  

O'Leary cites Wicked Good Cupcakes as one successful example of his unconventional approach. "That was the very first royalty deal ever in 'Shark Tank' history and everybody said it wouldn't work," he says. "It's been the most successful consumer company out of all of them. It's great for me; it's great for them. They have total control."

With over 400 products created, Lori Greiner likely has the most diverse negotiating experience of all the sharks. Her approach is thoughtful and calm, which won't surprise anyone who has watched her do a deal on "Shark Tank."

When facing a negotiation, she says it's important to identify your attitude about what you're negotiating.

"First, determine how important it is to you, how much you need it and want it, and then try to put that aside," she says. "If your attitude is you could take it or leave it, you're going to be a stronger negotiator. You're not going to let fear stop you from doing what you know is the smart, right thing to do. Take fear of losing out of it."

Tenacity and perseverance have been hallmarks in Robert Herjavec's life and career. Instead of allowing success to harden him, he's managed to maintain a childlike zeal that continues to serve him well. His ability to empathize influences his negotiation style.

"Listen more than you talk," he says. "Find out what the other side needs. Find a way to accommodate their needs while accommodating yours." Simple but sage advice.

Striking a balance between your own needs and the needs of others may not come naturally. But for those who can figure out how to do it, negotiation becomes less intimidating and more satisfying.

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