June 18, 2013

Negotiate Like a Girl: Set a Strategy for Success.

Welcome to the third installment of the Negotiate Like a Girl series.

In Part I. we covered just why it’s so important that women choose to negotiate, and all of the things they are missing out on if they don’t negotiate; in Part II. we covered the three pillars of taking the fear out of negotiation. Now we will discuss strategy to prepare you for a successful negotiation.

Before we dive into the strategy, I feel that it’s important to give you a bit of my background regarding negotiation. Negotiation is really hard and a continuous struggle for me, which is why writing about it makes for great practice. The Negotiate Like a Girl series is based on a combination of a fantastic negotiations class I took at Tufts University, multiple negotiations books I have read, and of course failures and successes in real life negotiations. I hope you find my experiences useful in helping you negotiate successfully.

Final Preparation for Your Negotiation.

  • Review your previous brainstorming from your pillar of preparation including data gathering, know your power, and goal setting. Really think about how you will achieve your goal, what steps you will take to achieve your goal, and how hard you are willing to work for it. Plan what information you will share with the other party to help build common ground and gather clues.
    • Draft your best first offer. Focus on creating a package of items to be negotiated, not just individual items. Use your best first offer to set the tone of collaboration and desire for a fair outcome. When negotiating an employment package, think beyond salary. What else can you bargain with to increase the negotiation package, e.g., vacation, flexible work schedule, travel, other benefits. Think about what you want out of the employment opportunity and what would be most beneficial to your employer.
    • Prioritize your interests. Know exactly what is most important to you and what you are willing to let go of.  This allows you to adjust to unexpected events during the conversation.
    • Enlarge the pie. What creative problem solving could match both of your interests? How do your goals meet the interests of the other party’s goals?
    • Who goes first? There is a lot of discussion around the benefits and drawbacks to giving your offer first. If you choose to go first, the principle of anchoring may take effect, meaning that you anchor the negotiation package and the remainder of the conversation may revolve around your first best offer.
    • Set the Stage.
      • Will this negotiation be in person, on the phone, or over email? I recommend that you negotiate in person— things like facial expressions, tone and body language can help diffuse tension and make the negotiation process more collaborative.
      • Wardrobe. What you wear is a visual signal to the other party as to your mindset going into the negotiation. Wardrobe can signal intimidation, aggression, or collaboration. When choosing what to wear I recommend staying with your typical wardrobe with the other party; if you usually wear business casual, don’t show up in your power suit.
      • Location. Choose a neutral location where you can speak comfortably and will feel relaxed. If you are in an office particularly if you are negotiating with a superior try to meet in a conference room as opposed to their office.
      • Dress Rehearsal. Role-play with a friend or trusted colleague.  Try to make the situation as real as possible.


Time to Negotiate

  • Be likeable but not apologetic. As mentioned in Negotiate Like a Girl Part I, women can be penalized for overly aggressive behavior (I know this sounds like BS, but this is what the research shows). Select your words carefully, use a non-threatening tone of voice, and make sure your nonverbal behavior is friendly. Also, frame items in positive terms.
  • Begin the negotiation by being gracious, thanking the person for the meeting. Remember, just because you’re negotiating does not mean you have to act formal and reserved. Just like any other meeting, feel free to start with friendly banter and common interests to relax tension.
  • Avoid focusing solely on your goals; continually reiterate what the other side will get. Also steer clear of ultimatums; instead take a problem solving approach.
  • To bluff or not to bluff? Bluffing can work great, but it can also backfire and cause you to lose credibility. Use your best judgment.
  • Important: It’s okay to slow down, clarify, and take a break if necessary. This was a huge mental shift for me in negotiating. It is very easy for me to get frantic or feel pressure to resolve the situation as quickly as possible (often negotiations are not the most comfortable situations and it’s natural to want to end it as soon as possible). Remember to slow down, take a deep breath and possibly step out or even postpone the negotiation if you need to gather more information or compose yourself.


Practice Makes Perfect (or at least less awkward)—Ask For It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want has an excellent “Negotiation Gym,” which is a 5-week outline to help you practice negotiating in small situations so your negotiation muscles are toned for when you really need them.

Use this series as reference material in planning for your next negotiation. Remember the high cost of avoiding negotiating, the three pillars of taking the fear out of negotiating, and finally in this installment practical advice for planning your negotiation strategy. One last piece of advice: the largest factor to having a successful negotiation is choosing to negotiate at all! So get out there and start to negotiate like a girl!



Ask for It: how women can use the power of negotiation to get what they really want ~ Babcock & Leshever

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without giving in ~ Fisher & Ury

Bargaining for Advantage : Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People ~ G.R. Shell

For additional negotiation and business advice, connect with Jeanne Eisenhaure on her Facebook Page and follow her on Instagram @Jeanne_EE.



Like elephant’s mindful Work & Money page on Facebook.

Ed: Brianna Bemel

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