Now that we are fully into summer, many of us might have more time to devote to professional development. I’m sorry I missed the May 22 meeting. I was walking down Memory Lane, visiting Ithaca, New York, to see my Alma mater, Ithaca College, and it just happened to be the 40th anniversary of my graduation! I definitely had fun memories and enjoyed sharing the beautiful upstate New York countryside with Jon.
The topic at the May meeting, Negotiating Skills for Women, is very crucial for all of us. Whether we are business owners or employees working in a team at the office, or part of a family – small or large, how we negotiate for what we want or need will drive our success and happiness. Jennifer Ziegelmaier – our chapter secretary – summarized the key points from the two presenters” Sharon Hanlon, Esq. and Rebecca Zung-Clough, who are both attorneys in Naples, Fla.
Keys to Developing Negotiating Skills
1) Prepare yourself for any negotiation by doing your homework. Get a clear picture of what you want, and write down your objectives. You must define your low points and high points of what you want and bring notes if you need them.
2) Stay calm and non-reactive. Your tone of voice is very important. You can be assertive AND calm. Make sure that you are confident and dress properly. Say what you need to say with authority.
3) Feel good about yourself. And do whatever you need to feel in power.
4) Anytime you have an agreement, get it in writing and signed because people always change their minds.
Those key points will help you conduct your negotiating session with a clear purpose and a positive attitude.
Lessons Learned in Getting What You Want
As I have done a lot of negotiating in my 40 years in business (yikes…that sounds like so many!), I have learned some lessons during those years that have helped me get what I want or need…or at least feel that the compromise was fair to all. That’s a key word in negotiating – understanding what an acceptable compromise would be or could be and working toward that goal.
It is part of #1 above. Sometimes it’s been a question about a raise or performance review, or a salary negotiation with a new job, or a proposal for a consulting project or what movie we are going to see Saturday night! Here are some other tips to help you with that negotiating process.
5) Don’t sound defensive in the face of a negative during your negotiation conversation. Whining or finishing a request on a high pitched tone of voice will give you away and illustrate your weakness. As #2 above states – say it with authority! Also, try not to respond with “but…”
6) Don’t cry. (I’m a softy, but as a corporate people manager for 20 years, and now a coach for 21 years, I am disappointed when a woman cries in a work/business situation.) I’ve had female employees cry during a meeting; my husband had it happen to him often as a people manager for 20 years. It is inappropriate at work. Don’t begin a negotiation session until you are sure you can stay calm, unemotional, factual, and in control!
Having a plan and notes will help. If you feel you might start to tear up or cry, take a very deep breath, and another one, think about your next point you want to make…and begin speaking again. Crying in a professional setting while negotiating will weaken your position.
7) In line with #1 above – plan ahead and identify what standard objections you might encounter to your request/argument/proposal/discussion, and then practice your responses to them so that you sound smooth, confident and capable of handling any negative that comes up in the conversation. Stumbling and fumbling with words and responses will make you sound unprepared and defensive.
8) Don’t repeat the negative! If they say: “That’s too much,” your response should not be, “Oh, you think it’s too much; well it’s really not because….” or if they say, “No, I want to think about it,” you don’t want to say “Oh, you want to think about it; may I ask what you need to think about?” Both responses simply reinforce the NEGATIVE. Yet a natural “knee-jerk” reaction is to repeat a negative. So, try #9 below instead…
9) Do acknowledge the objection but in a POSITIVE way without re-stating the negative: “I can appreciate what you are saying however, something (else) to consider is INSERT ONE POSITIVE BENEFIT STATEMENT ABOUT YOUR REQUEST.
10) In addition to not letting your tone of voice indicate any disappointment or frustration in their reluctance to accept your position/request/offer, if you are face-to-face, don’t let your body language (crossed arms, frown, nervous mannerisms like clicking and un-clicking your pen), indicate you are feeling nervous or defensive.
11) Finally, avoid any condescending or argumentative tones and words. Their concerns and worries are just as legitimate to them as yours are to you, and you want to be respectful of those sentiments as you provide your rational responses to them.
So, as you think about negotiations that didn’t work out, think about these 11 steps and see where you might have approached the discussion differently. And, if you still feel unsure about being strong in a negotiation conversation, then take advantage of webinars on the Internet or seminars locally to sharpen those specific skills over the summer! And…have a great summer!
Thanks to Sam Black, Sam Black Consulting and Professional Development Chair, for submitting this article.
Professional Development Calendar
Summer education programming here in Southwest Fla. is less frequent than during the “season” so, instead of reporting what might be out there, I’ve listed websites I’ve found where you can find programs that fit your learning needs and your schedule. Try to take advantage of a few this summer. S.C.O.R.E. offers a robust on-line course schedule. Something for everyone!