In 2002, two researchers published a paper entitled “Gender as a Situational Phenomenon in Negotiation.” The findings showed that not only did women ask for less, the expected less. And unfortunately, by 2016, little has changed.
“No more,” we at LABG say! It’s time for women to raise our game and start expecting—and demanding—more. Here are five things to keep in mind the next time you’re sitting across from someone who’s got what you want:
1. You don’t need to change who you are.
Note that we didn’t say “Time for women to start negotiating like a man!” You don’t need to start negotiating like anyone other than you.
Are you more likely to wear a floral skirt than a “power suit”? That’s absolutely fine. In fact, embrace that. When you walk into a negotiation situation, the last thing you want is to feel uncomfortable by trying to be someone that you’re not. After all, you’re concentrating on trying to be someone else, then you’re not concentrating on the discussion at hand. Dress in a manner that makes you feel confident, not in something you think someone else would consider “powerful.” If you generally smile when you’re in a conversation, there’s no need develop a “game face.” Be yourself.
2. If you’re not willing to walk away, then you’re not negotiating.
Warning: this might be the toughest part of negotiating – especially when you’re shooting for something you really, really want. First, get out a pen and paper and start writing down what you need to make this partnership work. There will always be a point at which an offer is just not worth it. Make sure you know what that is before walk through the door. Don’t reveal what your bottom line is – just be sure you don’t accept anything below it.
3. It’s okay to say “no.”
Sometimes it feels like you’re going to insult someone by saying, “no can do.” But no successful business was built on pity. If it doesn’t feel right to say no at the moment then tell the other party “I really appreciate the offer. I’d like to think on it for a few days. Can I get back to you tomorrow?” If they say yes, then you’ve got time to craft a respectful, “no, thank you.” If they demand an answer on the spot however, you need to be prepared to walk away.
4. Practice, practice, practice….. in a foreign language.
You may or may not have heard of the “Trolley Problem”. The gist of it goes like this: There’s a train that’s lost its brakes and it’s hurtling towards five people tied up on the tracks. You’re standing next to a lever that will divert the train to a different track so the five people will be avoided. Unfortunately, if you pull the lever, the train will switch to another track that has one person tied up. If you pull the lever you’ll save five people… but you’ll be directly responsible for the death of another human being.
When people were asked in their native language whether or not they’d kill the one person to save the other five, 80% said, “nope, I can’t pull that lever.” When they were asked in a foreign language that they could understand, that number dropped and 13% more folks said “yes, I’ll save the five.” In other words, more people were willing to make the tough choice when they were asked in a different language.
The moral: tough choices seem to be easier to make when the brain is less engaged with emotion and more engaged with logic. Those of us who are linguistically limited can still practice by participating in mock scenarios with a friend and imagining yourself as a disinterested third party.
5.) It’s not personal.
Remember: It’s not personal … it’s business. Imagine for a minute that you’re in the other party’s position. Don’t you want to get the best bargain you possibly can? You aren’t negotiating based on what you think of the other person, you’re negotiating on based what will benefit you most. And so are they.
Remember, when negotiating, you’re evaluating what it is you need to forge ahead to achieve your goals. If what they’re offering doesn’t further your endeavors, then it’s only holding you back. And no one should ever hold you back!
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