7 secrets of negotiation from The Wolf of Wall Street

The film The Wolf of Wall Street focuses on the professional and personal life of Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, as a stockbroker and entrepreneur. And while Belfort isn’t someone we should be modeling ourselves after, he does do some interesting things in all his wheelings and dealings that we can learn from. Let’s look at 7 tips to have in mind during your negotiations:

1. Research before negotiating 

Preparing a proposal (and using what you find in your research) is one of the most important steps to getting deals that are beneficial to you as a negotiator. 

In the film, it’s crucial for Jordan Belfort to know his audience and position his company, Stratton Oakmont, as the sole solution to his billionaire clients’ problems. Throughout the movie, we see how Stratton Oakmont negotiators research their clients’ needs then deliver a specific proposal for how they can be addressed.

2. Identify the other party’s interests

The research that you do beforehand will help you understand better what it is your clients need. Ideally, you should know what they need better than they do. But, don’t forget that during negotiations, plans usually fly out the window, so you must be prepared to be flexible in the moment. The ability to do this throughout the story is what sets Belfort out as a businessman.

3. Outline a need 

One of the most memorable scenes in the movie is when Belfort has one of his associates “sell” him a pen on the spot. Why? To demonstrate that if you want to persuade the other person, you have to create a perceived desire or need.

Identify what the other person needs, either in the long term or the short, and focus on that.  Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and show empathy and interest at all times. Give concrete examples of how to address their problem as well as why your solution is the best one to solve it. Doing this will dramatically improve the outcomes of your negotiations in the future.

4. Have command over your body language

Having good body language is one of those tips that essentially applies to any business setting (or personal setting, for that matter). Throughout the movie, we see that the characters radiate confidence and NEVER:

  • tighten their lips when in doubt.
  • rub their eyes, as it shows boredom.
  • impulsively scratch their skin
  • nervously touch their nose.
  • cross and uncross their legs while listening.

5. Communicate with conviction

In the art of negotiation, the way we communicate plays an important role. Body language is a huge part of this, but it’s also important to use cordial and friendly language. This allows you to lay out your proposal without being threatening.

6. Take advantage of social events

Social gatherings, business lunches, and parties are a great environment for negotiations. Many times, social events give you an opportunity to get to know the people you want to make a deal with, the opportunity may even arise to close a deal.

In the movie, the protagonists regularly throw parties for their potential clients; however, unfortunately for all those involved, the gentleman at Stratton Oakmont rarely maintain an appropriate level of professionalism.  Without making the same mistake, go to as many social events as possible. If nothing else, they offer a great opportunity to practice your skills.

7. Never stop training 

Negotiation is a skill that can be built and developed together with other soft skills. In a world that’s constantly changing, it’s important that we all continue learning and growing. It’s the only way we won’t get left behind.

In the film, Belfort demonstrates the value that training has for him when he decides to dedicate time to training his team instead of hiring a whole new one.

The training is continuous and includes developing and studying scripts, having feedback meetings, honing arguments, and many other things that give the team what they needed to never take no for an answer. 

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