Negotiating Skills

The art of negotiating what we have for what we want seems to be completely foreign to many women in the work force. Perhaps we were taught that it is not nice to expect anything in return for our efforts. Maybe we expect that if we do a good job, we will be recognized and rewarded automatically. Once we have the courage to make a request, we might refuse to compromise, when those around us are willing to give and take. In an arena where bartering and negotiating are expected, our lack of these skills bewilders the men around us. Apparently, we are unqualified.

As common as negotiating is, women often see it as a high-risk endeavor. In Winning the Salary Game, Sherry Chastain explains that a poor self image is evident when a woman sees negotiating as reckless risk-taking. Consider the irony. Negotiations are a normal part of business, and active players are expected to participate in negotiations. Women see negotiations as reckless risk-taking, so we avoid them. We have far more to risk, however, if we do not negotiate. By not negotiating, we appear rigid and uninterested – and, of course, unqualified.

We are often more trusting than men, more likely to assume that what we are told is the truth, and the whole truth. Conflict makes us feel bad. We are the peace-makers, hoping to make everyone feel comfortable and at ease. In a situation that requires conflict, we too often take things personally. When our request or suggestion is under attack, we feel that we are under attack.

In female-dominated job tracks, women often discuss their work and make joint decisions, usually without conflict or strategic force. As long as women work with other women, this method works. When we jump the tracks, however, we are suddenly expected to negotiate.

We must learn to recognize negotiating tactics, so we can see them for what they are. They are thrown at us constantly, from our management, our customers, and the men in our personal lives. We must learn to see negotiating tactics as a normal part of life, instead of untrue, unethical, and unfair. Finally, we must learn to negotiate with the best of them. CHAPTER 7 will help you develop these skills.


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