A Top Ten List…Because those are fun!

In Part I, we asked, “Would you pay me to negotiate for you?” and we ended by declaring that even if you were not a great negotiator, you could definitely learn to negotiate successfully for yourself with a few changes. In this article, we’ll pick up that conversation.

The “ugh” of negotiation. If the idea of going around looking for occasions to negotiate sounds off-putting to you, it might be your brain’s fault. Here’s what happens: Your ears hear the word “negotiate” and your brain goes, “Ooh, I heard that dish comes with a large side of conflict; you might lose; it’s going to be uncomfortable.” In seconds, there is a tiny bit of stress at the thought of negotiating, and your brain signals the release of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol – which signal your body to prepare to escape or engage in battle. That’s a big response to a not-so-big word. One thing you can do to change this reaction is to replace “negotiation” with “conversation” in your mind—say it out loud if you have to.

Women can make several changes (some large, some small) to become strong, successful negotiators. Here’s a Top Ten list to help you pay yourself for negotiating. Not only can this change your bottom dollar, but also your self-confidence and sense of peace.

10. Scan your emotions. You have to identify what you feel about the conversation (negotiation) on the table. When you know how you feel, you can identify why, and be more objective about that. This is an important step toward your own sense of confidence. Emotions are not necessarily bad or unwelcome in negotiations; at the same time, negotiations are more than passionate, emotional pleas.

9. Don’t take sides. This sounds counterintuitive, I know. Imagine being in a room and sitting across the table from someone having this negotiation (conversation). Now visualize the same room, but your chairs are side by side and you are looking at the same document/notepad in front of you. The first image is adversarial—you are on opposing sides. The second shows collaboration—two people working toward a goal of “value.” *NOTE: always bring paper and a pen to a negotiation—it gives you a reason to physically set up this game-changing scenario (to sit yourself beside someone instead of across).

8. Consider the other person’s outcome. What do they want? Why? How might they be feeling? How do they feel about you? When you can objectively list/state this, your natural gift for empathy will kick in. You are more likely to see a path to an outcome that suits you and them. Let them know you can identify their position.

7. Be aware of cultural differences and other influences. Doing your research also means knowing the different elements that can influence a negotiation. These could be values, political influences, beliefs, social practices, hierarchies, and religion, just to name a few. Between cultures, these six elements can be widely different. Your behavior during a negotiation of any kind should consider the cultural differences and expectations that could be obstacles—this is especially true in personal relationships.

6. Change your vocabulary. Successful women do not always interpret a “No” as a rejection or an endpoint in a conversation. How a woman thinks has the most influence on how she is. So change your negotiating game by realizing “No’s” are to be expected, but they often mean, “dig deeper” or “tell me more, I’m not convinced yet” or even “You don’t understand yet what is important to me here.”

5. Shoot past the moon. Generally, fear keeps women from starting high in a negotiation. A high opening position (especially in a salary/advancement negotiation) suggests assertiveness, and that’s often seen negativly in women. Fight that view by explaining/demonstrating how your “aggressive” stance is connected to others and benefits more than just you. Show how what you are asking for fulfills a need that exists for the other person. Do your research and being prepared with objective data and solid evidence.

4. Go ahead and address the obvious. Yep, the elephant. If it’s there, we all know it’s there. Are you in a situation where gender is an issue? Be the one to bring it up and explain why your being a woman or mother is a trump card in this situation.

3. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!  This is not the same as talk, talk, talk. Ask meaningful questions. Listen. Be intentional in your words—use clear, concise language. Listen. Parrot back to show you understand the other person. Listen. Be prepared to explain and to provide examples and evidence if necessary. Did I mention listen?

2. Understand your fears. Everyone has something to lose. You have to acknowledge the presence of fear—it means you care a great deal about something or someone. Fear does not have to be binding. Whether it is fear of rejection, fear of ridicule, fear of failure, or fear of a loss, you need to identify it. Then decide if the situation you are in is such that you are ready to go all in. Whether or not you are, you must choose your negotiation accordingly. Recognize the potential threat or loss, and then create several plans so that you don’t have to be afraid—even walking away (an “exit plan”).

1. Do the right thing. Always plan to do what is right in a negotiation. This is true whether you are with an employer, client, friend, enemy, family member or stranger. You might be in the high-power position in a negotiation. Be respectful and fair (fair to yourself too!). Do the right thing and do it first—and you inevitably make life easier down the road.