We are happy to introduce Molly Fletcher as our first guest blogger. Molly Fletcher's third book, "A Winner's Guide to Negotiating" will be released this September. Molly was our G.R.O.W. Keynote Speaker in February, inspiring women to “believe in their ability to make change." Through education, mentoring and networking, G.R.O.W. strives to give women in the workplace the tools to become tomorrow's leaders.
Negotiation. Type the word into Google Image and you get what you might expect. Images of men in power suits, posturing at opposite sides of a massive table. Comparisons to arm wrestling and tug of war. Firm handshakes.
No wonder many of us, especially women, are intimidated by even the idea of negotiating! As a sports agent, I experienced a lot of high-stakes negotiations and I learned to love it. At the core, negotiation is a conversation. We negotiate all the time in our daily lives, and it’s a skill we can develop with practice.
Studies have repeatedly shown that women are less likely than men to negotiate, and when they do, they ask for less. With that in mind, here are some tips for women:
1) Set the stage. Do most of your homework before negotiating. Be prepared with comparables that support your position. Identify the decision maker and other influencers. Never make assumptions.
2) Find common ground. No deal happens in a vacuum. Do your best to develop trust early so that both sides believe their needs can be met. Negotiation is a constant give and take. You must be flexible.
3) Ask with confidence. Making the ask is the scary part for most people. But if you have set the stage and found common ground, the ask should be expected. Ask for what you want, not what you think you can get or what the other side might give you. Be especially aware of the timing of your ask.
4) Get comfortable with ambiguity. Women want clarity quickly and cleanly. Negotiation can be messy. Dial back the emotion and put yourself in the upper deck, where you can see things more factually and less personally.
5) Know when to leave. A simple mistake many negotiators make is not seeing walking away as even an option. Have clarity around why you are negotiating. This will help you figure out if, when and how to leave.
As women trying to close the gap, it’s especially important that we get comfortable negotiating. Frame negotiation as a productive conversation. Practice in your daily lives and you’ll be surprised at how quickly the fear begins to subside with each small success. Remember, ask for what you want and be prepared to get it!