Negotiating starts with trust

While most of us probably don’t consider ourselves dealmakers, the reality is that negotiating and gaining consensus to reach a desired result is something we do multiple times each and every day.

Be it with your 6-year-old child to eat the broccoli, with your auto mechanic to fix a broken fan belt, or with a Fortune 500 company to close a multimillion-dollar deal, a lot of the tenets you use in your negotiations are probably similar. But the most important of those would be establishing a positive, trusting relationship with the person or persons you are dealing with.

The essential piece

At the center of every positive relationship lies one basic virtue: trust.

The establishment of trust is the cornerstone to all win-win situations — that is, a situation or result that is a good one for everyone involved in the negotiation. It would be hard to imagine any negotiation coming to a positive result without both sides exhibiting an element of trust in the other.

Don’t believe me? Look no further than our legislators in Washington, D.C., for an example of how a blatant lack of trust in one another manifests itself. It’s certainly not in results that leave both sides of the negotiating table feeling they have prevailed.

Whenever I am involved in negotiating a deal, I always strive to reach an outcome that is a win-win for all parties involved. When the party you are negotiating with discovers and believes that you are truly interested in a result that benefits them as well as you, it is amazing how the tone of the negotiations changes for the better.

Very simply, this is the product of negotiations that are based on trust. This is what we at Donatos like to call the “heart” of the deal as opposed to the “art” of the deal.

Keep your objectives in sight and your advisers on hand

I also like to have a clear idea beforehand of what my desired outcome of a win-win deal would be. That is not to say that I charge forward with only one possible result in mind; rather, considering a desired outcome beforehand simply helps to frame what would be an acceptable outcome.

As negotiations continue, it is always good to imagine yourself on the other side of the table Think about whether you are offering a deal that you would accept and, in fact would be a win-win for both sides.

Lastly, once you have agreed on the major points of a deal, surround yourself with the best people you can to finalize the details. Attorneys, financial advisers and other specialists will ensure that the deal is finalized in accordance with the wishes of all parties involved. (Feel free to skip this last step when working on your 6-year-old to finish the broccoli!)


Jane Grote Abell is the Chairwoman of the Board of Donatos Pizza. A founding family member of Donatos Pizza, Jane is heavily focused on the chain’s mission of promoting goodwill through product, service, principles and people.
She was named CEO of the Year by Columbus CEO, featured in CBS’s hit series “Undercover Boss” and released her first book in December 2015 “The Missing Piece: Doing Business the Donatos Way.”