What is it about negotiating that many of us find so difficult? I was commenting on a LinkedIn article recently about why women need to learn negotiation skills and I thought that it isn’t really just women, it’s a skill that everybody needs and one that often needs to be learned. I guess some people are born negotiators or maybe their parents or those that cared for them were and they just watched and learned from an early age but most of us probably have needed to learn the skills on the way so we could get a bargain, buy a car, buy a house or get a better deal on our mortgage or whatever. Life is full of negotiating scenarios and we just need to embrace them, not shy away from them.
So what is the problem, especially for women?
People, especially women according to many sources, seem to find it easier to negotiate on goods like cars and houses or negotiate on someone else’s behalf, rather than their own salary. Salaries seem to be the sticking point for a lot of people – either negotiating one at job offer time or at salary review time. The Fair Work Commission recently published a report that shows more males than females attempted to negotiate their salary and according to Helen Conway, former Director Workplace Equality Agency in Australia, in an article in the April 2015 edition of the Australian Institute of Management magazine, research shows women are viewed negatively if they negotiate, whereas for men it is accepted behaviour and women ought to overcome this but be mindful of their negotiating style. I’m also not sure about her comment that women need to be mindful of their negotiating style – so men don’t need to be mindful and are women meant to act in a certain way – why? This is scary stuff in 2015. Surely we all need to be mindful and negotiate the best way we can for the best possible outcome.
Do women still think that negotiating their salary is like applying for a job – you ‘think’ you might be able to do it but you’re not sure it’s worth the effort? I always remember the advice of a male friend when applying for a job I wasn’t quite sure about –he simply said “think like a man and just go for it!” That’s what I do now – be bold and give it a try – what’s the worst that can happen? You might not get the job or you might not get the salary increase but you also might! So (to use another cliché) nothing ventured, nothing gained.
What is it about negotiation that is so scary and how can we make it easier? Is it the confrontation that people hate and not wanting people to think less of them?
Any good book or website on negotiation will tell you the main parts to a negotiation are in essence the following –
I don’t necessarily agree with the win – win though. Ideally I guess you might want everyone to have a win but I don’t think it’s realistic – more on this later.
In my next blog, I will go through what I think the critical skills are for negotiation.