Long before we had LinkedIn, it has been largely understood that in the USA many of us have a “discomfort” when it comes to negotiating.
A recent survey done by LinkedIn revealed that about 25% of us are so reluctant to negotiate for our own salaries we’d rather just skip it. Few things could be worse than not being able to negotiate on your own behalf, let alone for someone else, especially if you are getting paid to do so.
There is another twist to the issue and that addresses women and negotiating, especially our women in the USA.
It really comes down to a cultural issue. We typically don’t have to bargain for a can of beans at the local grocery store every day, because there isn’t any bargaining going to happen there. We pay the price as marked and move on. Expert negotiator, Dr. George Lucas, co-author of the One Minute Negotiator says that in many other countries, bargaining is part of an everyday occurrence which when done well, ensures food on the table that day.
Women have a different type of issue when it comes to negotiating. Selena Rezvani, the author of the new book, “PUSHBACK: How Smart Women Ask—And Stand Up—For What They Want”, states that women tend to demonstrate a lower confidence level than men in negotiations for a couple of reasons.
She is quoted as saying: “A big part of that problem for women is the belief that relationships should trump agenda.” In other words, she says women are concerned that negotiating, or any sign of resistance, could tarnish a long-term relationship. Lucas contends that this is a general misunderstanding of what negotiating is all about. “Skilled negotiators don’t damage relationships – they advance them.”
Women also are the peace keepers, at home and at the workplace. Their concern is to promote harmony and protect their relationships in the workplace.
So….what makes us all so negotiaphobic; a term introduced by Hutson and Lucas in their book, “The One Minute Negotiator”? There are many reasons, especially when it comes to women and the negotiation process. Here are a few tips to help women pump up their negotiation success:
- Stop undervaluing yourself in the workplace! It’s been stated that women will over value the relationships in their workplace, at the price of undervaluing themselves and their contributions. When you experience a “bad economy” and jobs are scarce, the fear of negotiating to get better job compensation is that it may cost you the position! Know your value, focus on how it will help your customer or company and know that you are as good as or better than any other person for the job with preparation and substantial information to prove your point.
- Start ASKING for what you want. Men aren’t psychic and shouldn’t have to be! Dr. Linda Babcock and Sara Lashever in their book, “Women Don’t Ask” observed that their male students asked for all sorts of extra’s that the female students rarely asked for. As a result, the women were missing out on a lot of resources and opportunities that the men were benefitting from. In negotiations frequently the other side simply doesn’t even know there is a problem or concern, and would be willing to consider a new solution if one or several options were put on the table. But without “knowing” about the issue, they are unaware, and the extras are then not even an option. So women must simply learn to ASK for what they want/need, and then may have to negotiate, but will then have a greater probability to get more than they thought.
- Get it in writing. Women tend to think that a verbal agreement is a real agreement. Men not only rely more heavily on the written contracts, but often immediately start looking for loop holes to get around them. All too often, women tend to believe that once they shake hands on the agreement, that the negotiations are complete, when in fact, this initial agreement may actually initiate multiple phases.
The agreement is not done until it is written up and executed. Once executed by all parties, take a moment to review it carefully. A competitive negotiator may have added some options to include more than was originally agreed upon.
- We women have to be careful not to confuse accommodation with concession making. Concessions are made from a from a strength position – both sides give and get. Accommodating is a weaker position, where only one side gives and is more reactive in nature.
- Women are better suited to collaboration due to their advanced empathy and listening skills and are less confrontational. In addition, women are more likely to consider innovative alternatives to seek collaborative agreement, where men can get into a highly competitive mode and throw collaboration out the window and engage in all out slice up the pie competition. Women tend to be more creative in growing the size of the pie for any negotiation.
Women as with all negotiators, must manage the fine line between being adaptable and being pliable. Adaptability means that you intelligently match your negotiation approach or strategy to the situation at hand, and power position.
Being pliable infers that you are simply mirroring the strategy taken by the other side, and is viewed as a sign of weakness.
Terri Murphy is a published author, speaker, communication consultant, and author of 5 books, including her latest with Donald Trump. She is the founder of Women’s Wisdom Network
and Pres. of Terri Murphy Communications, LLC and serves as CIO of U. S. Learning in Memphis. Email: Terri@TerriMurphy.com – for more info: www.TerriMurphy.com