Successful Negotiating Skills for Women

Studies show that women are less likely to negotiate than men, even though they are equally competitive. Women are, however, better at advocating on behalf of someone else than they are at negotiating for themselves.  The reluctance to enter the negotiation could be costly.   

According to her book Women Don’t Ask, Linda Babcock shares details from her research: 50% more men than women were likely to attempt to negotiate a job offer — resulting in a 7% increase in salaries for the men in her study. 

Embrace the negotiation. Overcome any reluctance. Remember that negotiation isn’t a battle — it’s just a conversation. Use these 6 suggestions to get that conversation rolling.

Businesspeople in officePlan ahead. Prepare by knowing what you need. What’s your ideal outcome? What’s the least you’ll take? Are there other components (besides money) that are also important to you? Ranking these other components might help by forcing you to really think about your priorities.  You may not need to use all the details, but having them will give you options.

Also consider the other party’s perspective — their ideal, the least they’ll take, and the other things that might be important to them.  You may already know some of this, or you can do some research to find out. You can gather any missing information by asking questions. 

Start negotiating small stuff — deadlines, project scope, or budgets. The more experience you have at these conversations, the better you will be. Rehearsing with a friend can also help by making you more comfortable and fine-tuning the language you’ll use.

Businesswomen standing in line, portrait (differential focus)Pretend you’re asking for someone else. How would you approach this negotiation if it were for a close friend or family member? You’d probably present very compelling reasons and push until you got what you wanted.

Ask for more than you want. Aim high with your first offer — putting the focus on the value. If the other party’s response is “no way,” it’s time to ask questions.  “Why is it you can’t say yes?” or “Can you help me better understand what you’re looking for?” Giving the other party a chance to speak up will give you more useful information.

If the other party jumps in ahead of you with the first offer, you can still use the same information and the same offer you would have used if you had made the original offer. If their initial offer is a figure you consider way too high (or way too low, in the case of salary), let them know and attempt to reset the bar.

Businesswoman standing in a victory poseShare information. When you negotiate, there’s no real reason to hold back information. By sharing details about what you’re looking for, you’re creating an environment of trust. Most experts agree that this sets the stage for an honest give-and-take.

Embrace silence. Do not feel the need to fill the silence that happens after you speak. Wait for the other party to respond, so you can get information about their feelings on the offer. Practice this silence in smaller negotiations as well. Wait patiently for a response.

Women can and should be great negotiators.  Plan, practice, and ask for what you want.  Be honest and open — and get what you need.

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