When to Negotiate

The short answer is all the time. You are constantly negotiating, whether you realize it or not. Sometimes the negotiations are low stakes: choosing a movie or where to eat, but other times, they are crucial.

I recently attended a short session on Negotiation put on by Professor Margaret Neale of the Stanford Graduate School of Business through Silicon Valley Thought Leadership Greenhouse. She had some interesting statistics to share:

U.S. Open"In the 2006 U.S. Open Tennis Grand Slam tournament, a new instant-replay system offered players the opportunity to challenge the line calls of referees. The challenges of players--regardless of gender--were upheld about 1/3rd of the time.

However, in the U.S. Open, the men challenged 73 calls, while women challenged only 28 calls!"

You might be able to come up with all manner of rationalizations for why this occurred, including the fact that it's just tennis. But the reality is women shy away from negotiation and it's hitting them in the pocket book.

Women, when negotiating compensation, are less likely to negotiate than men. Often, women worry about being perceived as "not nice" or "demanding," and research shows that instinct is right. Still, there's a cost to being nice and it's usually lower pay.

Women do have to be strategic in how they negotiate compensation. They fare better negotiating pay one-on-one with the boss and are more likely to be successful if they pair their demands with reminders of their competence and how they are going to help the organization hiring them.

Finally, before you go into any negotiation you should be prepared and your preparation should involve these 3 things:

1. What is your goal? Know what it is before going in and make sure it's specific. Thoughts like, "I want to win," can trip you up because people can make you think you won when in fact you didn't.

2. Know what a good deal is to you. To assess the quality of a proposed deal you need to understand what your alternatives are if the deal fails, what your reservation price (bottom line) is, and what is your aspiration (what's possible). Studies show those who aim higher, have higher expectations/aspirations for the outcome of the negotiation, do better.

3. Negotiate. Not negotiating is a choice, too. It can have downsides.

If you don't negotiate, then you get the deal you agreed to.

For more on essential skills, see www.AliciaMorga.com.

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