4 Negotiation Advantages Women Have Over Men
I think you know the answer here. For most women, doing this the old way—the man's way—doesn't generally work. That's in part because the hard truth is that (and data supports this) our taking that type of tough approach can backfire for us, as the old gender norms kick in and we are perceived as "bitchy" or "not team players." In addition, it's not really how we're "wired." The research tells us that when men negotiate, they focus on the short-term—i. e., "winning;" when women negotiate, we focus on the long-term—i. e., preserving the relationship after the negotiations are done. I know this is 100 percent true for me. I hate making job offers; even after all these years and all the job offers I've made, I still have an almost physical aversion to doing it, for fear that the person on the other side of the table will "get mad" at me that the compensation is not generous enough (I know...seriously, right?)
So instead of focusing on the black and white definition of "winning," as men tend to do, why not play to our strengths when we negotiate?
To get there, let's start by calling BS on the conventional wisdom that women are somehow not "as good" at negotiating as men are. Because the truth is more nuanced than this truism allows. For example, have you ever seen a mother negotiate for her child at school? She is fearless, and it's an awesome thing to behold. This isn't just anecdotal; research shows that when a woman is negotiating for someone else—whether her kids, her sister, her colleague—she is a tougher negotiator than most men.
When we feel nervous or uncomfortable going into negotiations (and believe me, I've been there), we can leverage this tendency of ours by thinking about who else will benefit from whatever we are negotiating for. If it's a raise, we can focus on how that raise will help us put funds toward our kids' college educations, or the portion of it we'll donate to the PTA, or our favorite charity. If it's a more flexible schedule, we can think about how our spouses may like having us home more. With this line of thinking our "mama bear" instinct will kick in, allowing us to negotiate more energetically and effectively than if we had been thinking only about ourselves.
Another way we can leverage our relationship focus in negotiations is by changing the orientation from "I win and you lose" to one of "how can we problem-solve together." In negotiations with your boss, this means getting clear on your value to the company and talking honestly about what is important to you in the negotiation and why. The traditional (read: male) view of negotiating—you ask for the raise and you either get it or you don't—does us a disservice, because it can limit the outcomes. Too often discussion of "getting the raise" gets boiled down to the singular question: Did you get one or not? But this black and white approach can cause us to miss the other opportunities for "win wins" that open up once we introduce more variables into our negotiations.
I can't stress this enough: Yes, the raise is important. Very important. But it's not always just about a raise. There are many, many things that can have value for you as you develop your career—like the opportunity to learn new skills, to travel, to work under a particular person at your company...and some can be much easier for your manager to say yes to than money in any given year. Maybe it's a more flexible schedule. Maybe it's an overseas assignment. Maybe it's exposure to new ways of marketing. Maybe it's working on a project for one of the top managers at the company. Maybe you're burnt out and need a sabbatical. Maybe you're bored to tears and need to do something different. And these things may arguably be a more tangible value to you for tomorrow than a salary bump is to you today, because they increase your earning power in the long run.
So if you go in with just one ask, you're selling yourself short. Way short. Because if you get a "no" (and you well may), you leave empty-handed. But if you have other requests that are of value to you, you can leave with a victory. And your boss also starts getting used to saying yes to you. That matters, too.
Next, you need to put those listening and empathy skills to work to help you understand what your boss values and why she values it. Is she in need of a certain skill set? Then go get that. Or certain experience? Same. Find out what it is that the company needs and values, and then be the one to deliver it.
Once both sides understand what matters to the other, then we can talk about where our priorities overlap. This is where our natural strengths as communicators are key. The goal is to communicate not just what your priorities are, but why they are what they are, and why you think they’re also in the interest of the company.
You may be asking: by being so transparent, do we give up our bargaining chips?
Well, maybe in the short-term way. But I find we get something of more long-term value in return. When we make it about our relationship—and about finding a solution that truly is a win for both parties—in negotiation, we build trust, establish rapport, and learn something about what the person on the other side of the table values, something that will potentially come in handy when the next negotiation rolls around.
Excerpt from Chapter 4: The Obligatory Ask-for-the-Raise and How-to-Negotiate Chapter (with a Twist). Adapted from Own It: The Power of Women at Work Copyright © 2017 by Sallie Krawcheck. Published by Crown Business, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
SALLIE KRAWCHECK is the Co-founder and CEO of Ellevest, an innovative digital investment platform designed to help women reach their financial goals. She is also Chair of Ellevate Network, a professional networking community whose mission is to advance women in business, and the Chair of the Pax Ellevate Global Women's Index Fund. Own It: The Power of Women at Work is her first book.
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