Posted on 2/22/2020, 7:21:01 PM
Negotiation is difficult for everyone. It’s a challenging but necessary skill that not everyone has mastered, even highly-trained business professionals. For women, negotiation can be even more intimidating.
Many women have been socialized not to be aggressive or to push back in confrontations, and they may feel that they are too pushy when they attempt to get what they want in a business discussion.
It’s easy for female professionals to slip into conventional gender roles like passivity or shyness, or to be afraid of coming across as greedy or overly ambitious. In fact, many women avoid negotiating for better salaries or higher profits at all because of what they’ve been taught about how they might be perceived. That’s why female business professionals need to be even more on top of their game when it comes to effective negotiation.
Read on to learn more about how to get what you want (and then some) from two top business leaders and self-help professionals.
In Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, Roger Fisher and William Ury dig into the psychology of negotiation. Fisher was the Samuel Williston Professor of Law Emeritus at Harvard Law School, while William Ury co-founded the Harvard Negotiation Project and helped to establish the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School after graduating with a Ph.D. in social anthropology.
Fisher and Ury argue for principled rather than positional negotiation. Principled negotiation is based on the merit of the outcome, rather than the egos of the two negotiating parties. This means that negotiators should focus on how they plan to negotiate, not just what they want specifically.
All parties, Fisher and Ury say, should also use their emotional intelligence to negotiate, rather than simply focusing on themselves. The goal should be to achieve the best possible outcome for everyone involved and the groups they’re advocating for, not just the two people or groups directly involved in the negotiation process.
Finally, the authors drive home the idea of BATNA or the Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. This involves focusing on people before outcomes, preparing in-depth for negotiation by conducting all the necessary research, brainstorming possible alternatives with creativity and flexibility while maintaining your ultimate boundaries, and being willing to walk away if a negotiation that pleases everyone isn’t possible. This approach is especially important for women because it advocates a holistic, rather than simplistic or one-sided, approach to negotiation.
Chris Voss honed his own negotiation skills as an FBI kidnapping investigator. In his influential bestselling book Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It, he lends those skills to the masses.
One of Voss’ most important points is one that many female professionals might already know: Tone of voice and emotions matter. While some business leaders approach every negotiation with a “me first” attitude, Voss advocates for an open dialogue that fosters vulnerability and trust. You’ll be much more persuasive, he suggests, if the other party isn’t turned off immediately by your rigid approach.
Start your negotiations by listening to what the other party truly believes, thinks, and wants, says Voss. After that’s established, use your tone of voice and trust-building skills to foster a bond and effective communication.
Finally, Voss suggests that negotiations should never be rushed. Although it might be tempting to accept a decent offer, you should hold out until you get the best one possible. If you take the other party up on their offer too soon, you could miss out on everything you’ve put your time and energy into. This is an especially important point for women, who may be especially tempted to accept an offer and settle for less than they want due to a lack of confidence that something better is on its way.
The art of negotiation is always changing, and high-achieving, ambitious entrepreneurs need to stay on top of the latest developments and trends. While business leaders often come out with valuable insights into new nonfiction books on the market, they can be dense and difficult to get through if you have a busy schedule.
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