The Negotiator Magazine

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Seven Simple Ways to Become a Better Negotiator

By Delee Fromm

"Let us never negotiate out of fear, but never fear to negotiate"
John F. Kennedy

How you negotiate in the day to day determines how much you make, what perks you get, and how easy it is to get projects approved and satisfy disgruntled customers. In short it determines the ease with which you get agreement from other people and deal with conflict. Yet recent research has shown that two and a half times as many women as men feel "a great deal of apprehension" about negotiating and a full 20% say they avoid it completely! Only 14% of successful women said that negotiation made them feel powerful and assertive. Recent authors have cogently argued that this discomfort may even be the reason behind the huge salary differences between males and females. Thus despite the obvious value of effective negotiation skills, negotiation is a dirty word for many women.

So how does a woman who is uncomfortable with negotiation, or who completely avoids it become an effective negotiator? There are some fairly easy ways for women to become more effective negotiators- even for those who are currently comfortable in the negotiating role. Here are seven of them.

  1. Determine the importance of relationship and outcome before each negotiation. Focusing on these dual aspects of negotiation ahead of time will help you select the most appropriate type of negotiation strategy and, where outcome is very important, will keep you focused on your goals. It will also help you from falling into the "trying to keep everyone happy" trap discussed below.

  2. Know how you respond to conflict. There are five ways to respond to conflict- compromise, compete, avoid, accommodate and collaborate. Most women habitually overuse compromising and accommodating. By knowing how you automatically respond to conflict you can begin instead to consciously respond and shift, if necessary, to the most appropriate response in the circumstances.

  3. Learn how to use a win/win strategy. This is a perfect strategy to master as it is a natural fit for most women's abilities and attitudes. Using this type of strategy the interests of the parties are explored so that the best solution for both parties can be obtained. Aspects of this type of strategy include exploring interests, brainstorming for more options, and knowing other alternatives to a negotiated settlement.

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September 2005