Mega-Broker Dolly Lenz on the Art of Negotiation

Called the "Queen of Real Estate" and even "Jaws" for her aggressively successful tactics, super broker Dolly Lenz has sold over $8.5 billion dollars in high-end properties, catering to clients like Barbra Streisand, Billy Joel and P. Diddy.

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Now she's revealing five negotiating tips. Check out her advice.


As someone who negotiates deals for a living I can tell you that negotiating is inherently confrontational because you have two sides with diametrically opposed interests. Because of that negotiations sometimes become heated and it's important not to take it personally nor be concerned how you'll be perceived.

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Your goal is to get the best possible deal and if that means having to function outside your comfort zone than so be it. You should judge your performance based on the deal you strike not whether the other side likes you or not.


Whether you're an investor or negotiating a business deal it is critical not to get emotional about any transaction.

I always advise my clients not to fall in love because I know it will result in their overpaying. It's important to remember that no deal is always better than a bad deal, and therefore you should be prepared to walk away. This attitude does not mean that you will eventually lose the deal but it does put you in a frame of mind so that the other negotiator will not sense weakness on your part. This approach will result in fewer concessions than you would have to make otherwise.


Normally, you don't know what kind of time pressure the other side is under and they are not going to tell you. It is therefore critical for you to exhibit patience. If the other side believes that you are not under any pressure to conclude a transaction they will be more willing to make concessions to achieve a deal. Play it cool and don't be in a hurry and you'll avoid those mistakes that can cost you money.

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If there is one major weakness that poor negotiators exhibit it is poor listening skills. They are so concerned about what they're going to say next that they don't listen to what is being said to them. Successful negotiating requires knowledge and invariably the party with more knowledge gets the better outcome.

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This is why listening is so important because you'd be surprised how much information you can acquire just by shutting up and letting the other side talk. And when you do talk you are infinitely better off asking probing open-ended questions rather than making declarative statements. Play detective, getting as much information as you can and you'll see your results improve dramatically.

Dolly Lenz, Vice Chairman of Prudential Douglas Elliman.
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Dolly Lenz, Vice Chairman of Prudential Douglas Elliman.


During the ebb and flow of any negotiation there will come a point when you'll have to make a concession. This is why you should always begin a negotiation by asking for more than you are willing to accept.

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But here's the key.

Never ever give up something without getting something in return. Should you make this error, the opposing party will read it as a sign of weakness and you can bet they'll ask for another concession. Don't make it easy for them. Let them know that every concession you make is going to cost them something. Let them know that they have to earn your concession and you'll arrive at a better deal.

-By Dolly Lenz, the Vice Chairman of Prudential Douglas Elliman