In business, women shy away from negotiation opportunities about twice as many times as men. This means that they give away various opportunities to improve their own situation. When confronted with a negotiation situation, it can feel very intimidating when the outcome in unclear. It feels like living in a jungle with tigers lurking at every turn. Here are five tips to consider when negotiating a change in job status, project opportunity, or other tiger-taming need:
1. Do your research. Clarify your own objectives and make sure you understand the true goal of the negotiation. Eliminate ambiguity. Don’t allow tigers to pounce on your chances for success by not having well researched answers to questions the other side may raise. Look for patterns regarding how the person with whom you are negotiating handles negotiation situations. Know why you are negotiating and how such negotiation attempts have fared in the past.
2. Decide what is negotiable. Before you start to negotiate, draw up a list of factors that are most important to you. Tigers will eat you for lunch if you don’t have a clear line of delineation about what are must haves and what are possible compromises. Key factors might include salary, work schedule, project assignments, or customer deliverables. The key is to establish your preferred outcome, but remain realistic, because if you’re not prepared to compromise, the negotiation process will fail, and will not provide outcomes with which you will feel satisfied. Realize that women often shortchange themselves.
3. Plan your strategy in writing and decide what approach you will adopt before beginning negotiations. Be clear about the type of deal you want, set clear goals and work out where you will draw the line and walk away from the deal. Write down your negotiating strengths and how to get the concessions you require. Consider ways of defending the weaker parts of your argument and be prepared for any objections brought up by the other side. Talk your approach over with trusted colleagues. Negotiating tigers produce stress so practice your strategy and review your written notes before entering the tiger’s den.
4. Negotiate like a woman. Women do not need to accept their gender role limitations; on the contrary they can take advantage of several skills that are more commonly found in women and are very useful in generating successful negotiated outcomes. For example, women are actually very good at asking questions and building relationships. What they usually fear is the risk of instigating conflicts or confrontation. So, women can be very successful when they focus on diagnostic questions and creating a working dialogue so they can craft creative solutions to the negotiation situations.
5. Draw up a contract. Once all the points have been negotiated and a deal has been agreed, it’s best to get a written contract drawn up and signed by both parties. While verbal contracts are legally binding – they are difficult to prove in court. Tame the tiger, once and for all, by getting things down in writing.