What do you do when you have to negotiate with one of the world’s most acute businessmen? In Gary Green’s case, you sit down and talk about baseball.

“All he really cared about is that I love baseball,” Green said of Warren Buffett in a recent Entrepreneur article. Green wanted to buy Omaha’s minor league baseball team, and he had to talk with Buffett before the deal went through.

“He wasn’t trying to squeeze out every last dollar; he just wanted the right custodian of his hometown team,” Green said. Buffett’s general concern motivated Green to do everything he could to raise the money for the purchase.

Buffett is rated the most charitable billionaire by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, and he exemplifies the No. 1 secret of successful negotiations: Give more than is reasonable from the start and continue through the lifetime of the relationship. Spending the money to give over and over might not seem like great business sense, but if you try it, you’ll ultimately receive more than you give.

It’s all about your reputation

One of my early mentors, Bill Mullet of ProVia, told me the most important thing to keep in mind about business deals is this: Never give anyone reason to speak ill of you. You never want people to leave a negotiation feeling as though you took advantage of them. Giving more than you have to builds trust with business associates, who oftentimes will go out of their way to reciprocate.

This approach to business is one reason men like Buffett are offered the best companies and get the best deals: They are givers. People want to sell to people who won’t put them through painful negotiations and will add value to businesses they care deeply about. They want to feel confident the buyer won’t tear down or flip their businesses and will take care of their valued employees.

Even on the national scale, industries tend to be small, and people always talk. If you want to grow your company through acquisition, building your reputation as a giver will put you in a place to be offered first shot at negotiations. If you’re working with suppliers, don’t treat them as disposable, negotiating until they have no profit left. Show that you’re willing to sacrifice your profit for their good, and they will be more likely to offer you their best ideas and connections.

Establishing yourself as a giver

Want to prove that people should be clamoring to work with you or your company, not avoiding you at all costs? Start with these three strategies to step up your negotiating game:

1. Emphasize your good intentions.

Being a giver cannot simply be a tactic you use to further your business interests. If it’s not authentic, it will not work. A recent SunTrust poll revealed that 69 percent of Americans would forgo giving holiday gifts if their family and friends agreed, and 60 percent said they’d be able to spend more time with family instead. People don’t necessarily want physical gifts — they’d rather focus value and authenticity.

People can spot a fake a mile away, and the last thing you want is a reputation for being two-faced. Take a page from Buffett’s book and negotiate with charity and good intentions in your heart. Follow through on your promises, and show those you’re negotiating with that you’re in business for the right reasons.

2. Surround yourself with the right people.

Life and business in today’s society might feel like a sprint, but, as Gary Vaynerchuk says, it’s actually a marathon. Burning bridges and taking advantage of people in a negotiation might work for five years, but it certainly won’t help you stay successful for the next 50 years. Adopting a giving mindset is easier with repetition, and being around other givers can help you strengthen your mind and heart.

Find people who love to give on the front end of relationships and will support you as you endeavor to do the same. According to author and podcaster Tim Ferriss, each of us is the average of the five people with whom we spend the most time, so fill your personal and business inner circles with people whose values and behaviors align with your own. You’ll find yourself becoming more generous in no time.

3. Always be ready to give first.

I was recently negotiating with someone who seemed excited to barter — but he also seemed like someone who had often gotten the short end of the stick. He agreed to a deal at $15,000, but I ended up offering him $20,000 worth of services just to ensure everything was taken care of. My business partner later asked why I’d done that. I knew that my gesture of goodwill on the front end would help cement our relationship, and the cost to me didn’t matter.

Always look for ways to be the first to give extra. Start small; once it becomes a habit, you’ll find yourself doing it in all areas of your life. Look for places in your business where you can practice giving meaningfully even though it doesn’t cost much. A study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology on the forming of habits found that, on average, it takes just longer than two months to turn an intentional behavior into an automatic habit. That might seem like a long time and a lot of work, but you are laying the foundation for a lifetime of positive business relationships and successful negotiations. Start by making small compromises. The time — and money — you put in now will be worth it in the long run.

People tend to make decisions from an emotional place, even though they don’t like to admit it. If someone feels like you have his or her best interest in mind, the negotiation process radically changes for the better. When you build solid relationships based on giving, you increase the chances that your negotiating partners will meet you where you need them to because they know you’ll always have their best interests in mind.