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Get to YES with less stress: how to master the art of mindful negotiation

Updated: Jun 2, 2022

What comes to mind when you hear the word negotiation?

For women we work with at EvolveMe in midlife career transition, negotiating a salary, promotion, or raise can be stressful. And even if you get up the courage to start the conversation, what if you get a big fat "no"? Then what?

In fact, for some women, just the thought of negotiation can stop you in your tracks. Prevent you from trying. Keep you stuck and playing small.

But it doesn't have to be that way! Just ask our colleague Erin Gleason Alvarez, arbitrator, mediator, and negotiation consultant, who's changing the game for women and self-advocacy.

Erin's take is that when we stop to think about it, we use - quite effectively, thank you very much - negotiating skills every day, throughout the day. And for the big conversations, there's a way to approach negotiation mindfully, with less anxiety and more confidence.

We love Erin's thoughtful strategies about getting to "yes" with less stress.

And we say a big YES to that ourselves!

We recently sat down with Erin for a conversation at an EvolveMe + Ellevate Network Career Changers Roundtable. Erin is a career reinventor herself, an entrepreneur whose women supporting women approach aligns perfectly with our mission at EvolveMe.

Whether you're negotiating with your manager, partner, or teenager, you'll want to remember these tips!

EvolveMe: Tell us about your career journey. How did you come to mindful negotiation? Can you explain what it is?

Erin: I've served as an attorney for over twenty years – presently as a mediator and arbitrator at Gleason Alvarez ADR, helping businesses of all sizes put commercial, insurance, employment, and entertainment-related disputes behind them.

I've always been intrigued by how the world talks to women when it comes to negotiation. A few years ago, I started researching this topic, and it was such a downer. So much of what I found was that women don't negotiate, don't know how to negotiate, don't negotiate with the right people, etc.

So, I decided to flip the script. In 2019, I founded Take Charge Negotiations to start teaching negotiation and consulting by using a more relatable and empowering language. This is mindful negotiation – conferring with others to derive some mutual benefit while staying present in the moment and proceeding without any judgment. EvolveMe: Why do women have a difficult time advocating for themselves? How does mindfulness help?

Erin: I don't think that's an accurate assessment of most women I have worked with or who I know. But I think it's what we are all told consistently throughout our lifetimes. If this is something that comes up for you (thinking you are not a good negotiator or that you have a hard time advocating for yourself), try this:

  1. I suggest you start listening for all of the negotiations you conduct successfully every day, from getting your toddler dressed in the morning to securing a seat on the subway or deciding on dinner.

  2. Then think about what tools you already have to negotiate in other situations. There are elements of negotiation in each of these interactions - and the skills you use there (creativity, patience, persistence, flexibility, empathy, etc.) all transfer over to those conversations you worry about. You already have what you need.

Mindfulness inserted into a negotiation can help to give you the space and clarity you need to do what's essential – solve a problem, get a raise, finalize a deal.

EvolveMe: What's your favorite mindful negotiation strategy? One we can all even use in our personal lives?

Erin: I think it's vital that people spend time preparing for negotiations in advance of the discussion. You are working from a huge disadvantage if you are unclear on why you're negotiating, what you hope to achieve, and where your negotiation partners' interests lie.

To help with the preparation process, I created a meditation for people to listen to that helps to clear out all those what-ifs and anxiety-inducing scenarios. These are available for free on the Take Charge site here. EvolveMe: What's one tip for women to feel they can take charge of their next negotiation or ask - whether it's in the workplace or otherwise? With friends, family, etc.?

Don't think of it as "asking." Everyone in that negotiation needs something, not just you. Think about what you have to offer and how you can answer their needs. Showing that you understand and value where other people are coming from goes a long way towards a successful negotiation – and a successful outcome to that negotiation.


At EvolveMe – having mindsets that focus on all you have to offer – your skills, strengths, and value – is essential as you chart your next chapter. If you want to make sure the voices in your head are working to your advantage – as you explore the next steps in your career, check out our free tool: 6 MIndsets that Sabotage Career Reinvention (and how to avoid them!).

This training will help you see how you can learn to say YES to yourself more often – by shifting your mindsets around what you're capable of - we know it's so much more than you think!

We want more for you!


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