Sure, Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) and Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) may be slick talkers, but when it comes to the question of who is Pearson Specter Litt’s smoothest operator, only one person fits the bill -- Donna Paulsen (Sarah Rafferty). Donna gets whatever she wants, whenever she wants -- so here’s an opportunity to learn from the best.
[Warning: Contains Suits spoilers through Season 7]
If you’ve got your sights set on something, don’t beat around the bush. When Donna wanted Harvey to make her a Senior Partner in episode 701, “Skin in the Game,” she didn’t sit on her hands: She came right out and asked him, point blank. Donna kept Harvey on track, even when it seemed like Harvey tried to avoid the issue.
It’s All About Who You Know
Donna is a people person -- she has friends everywhere. That came in handy in episode 316, “No Way Out,” when a friend in the U.S. Attorney’s office signaled Mike was taken in for questioning by Eric Woodall (Zeljko Ivanek). Donna then pressed her connection for dirt on their new adversary. Thanks to Donna, Harvey knew exactly what he was up against when he later took on Woodall.
Lead With The Carrot…
Donna knows that people are always more likely to do things for you if you give them an incentive. A great example is way back in episode 112, “Dog Fight.” When Donna needed Louis Litt (Rick Hoffman) to ask his cousin to run a DNA sample, she didn’t show up empty-handed; she came bearing two tickets to the American Ballet, followed by dinner with Baryshnikov.
… But Don’t Be Afraid To Use The Stick
Of course, when Louis rejected her offer and refused to help in that same episode, Donna immediately switched gears and told him to report to Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres), who put her foot down. The takeaway? When rewards don’t work, sometimes you need to resort to punishment.
Always Keep Something Up Your Sleeve
Donna knows that it’s not just about the cards you have in your hand; it’s about how you play them. Back in episode 111, “Rules of the Game,” Cameron Dennis (Gary Cole) made a deal with the Attorney General that would have hung Harvey out to dry. Luckily, Donna had a file from their days in the DA’s office that gave her firm leverage over Cameron -- taking Harvey’s head off the chopping block. Harvey definitely wasn’t happy about it, but Donna saved his ass. The lesson here is that whether it’s a little piece of gossip or a big incriminating file, hang onto it: You never know when it might come in handy down the road.
Do Your Homework
The only way to figure out how to get what you want is by doing your research. In episode 506, “Privilege,” Mike wanted to book the Plaza Hotel on Rachel Zane’s (Meghan Markle) birthday for their wedding, but the date was already taken. Donna to the rescue! Red dug up dirt on the person who already held the date (turns out the guy was having an affair), and before you can say, “Donna, you’re awesome,” Mike landed the wedding venue of Rachel’s dreams!
Confidence Is Key
Donna is nothing if not self-assured, and that kind of poise comes in handy when you’re trying to get things done -- especially if there is someone trying to stop you. Red put that confidence to work in episode 414,“Derailed,” when she bluffed her way into Liberty Rail to obtain safety records crucial to Mike’s case. Sure, this one came back to bite her in the ass, but points for execution!
When All Else Fails, Don’t Be Afraid To Fake Some Tears
In episode 105, “Bail Out,” Donna easily whipped up some fake tears -- getting Harvey to agree to let her parents use his condo. Hey, when you want something badly enough, you can’t let pride get in the way.