Real life requires regular negotiation. Sharpen your every day negotiation skills using the tips in this blog series, and you’ll soon be creating better business outcomes.
In April, Secret Deodorant, owned by Proctor & Gamble, launched a very endearing, funny national commercial spot called “Raise” in which Lucy, a young career woman, rehearses asking her boss for a raise in front of the bathroom mirror. Ambitious and sharp, we empathize with her as she struggles to form the sentences she hopes will get her the salary increase and recognition she wants. She starts and stops, switches tactics, reverts to flattery, changes her mind. Her nervousness is palpable, as she flubs her words, grabs at her hair and exhales loudly. Yes, she’s been with her company two years longer than Todd, who earns more than her. Yes, she’s a “really great…leader”. What she isn’t is an experienced negotiator and unfortunately, this might stand in the way of her scoring that promotion.
Negotiation is not in our nature.
Despite what Secret might be saying about wage inequality, which is beyond the scope of this blog post, the video reinforces that no one is born with polished negotiation skills. Negotiation is a complex, technical set of behaviors that must be learned and practiced, honed and developed over time, through multiple negotiations. Anyone can tackle the subject if they know how.
The problem is, most people don’t. Negotiation is so awkward and uncomfortable that most of us avoid it altogether. We tip toe around critical conversations, have them badly, or worse never have them at all. Ever wonder why it’s so difficult to have important conversations about things that matter to us? We’re physiologically wired for the fight or flight response. And who wants to deal with these difficult emotions, especially at work? But the cost of avoidance can be high. In Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever’s groundbreaking book Women Don’t Ask (2003), they share the unsettling research that those who ask for more money in first job salary negotiations end up earning about $15K more per year than their non-asking counterparts. Over the course of an entire career, this can add up to a huge inequality in pay, hundreds of thousands of dollars. A second home. An advanced degree. College tuition for several children. Clearly, it pays to ask.
The irrefutable case for negotiation.
The benefit of negotiating isn’t always financial. We negotiate with a colleague and discover ways to share resources and save our limited budgets. We advocate for family leave benefits in our company, and get them. We deepen professional relationships by resolving an ongoing conflict between departments. When we commit to the practice of effective communication and negotiation, we commit to reaching a beneficial outcome for others and ourselves.
We can’t stress this point enough. Negotiation is a critical skill to learn in work and in life. And while advanced negotiation techniques do take time to develop, you’ll be happy to learn that you are already negotiating on some level, every day. We negotiate with customer service representatives, employers, bosses and spouses. High stakes, low stakes, we are all negotiators.
Introducing…. Negotiation, A Blog Series.
Because the field of negotiation is so vast, and its impact so wide reaching, The Executive Communicator has decided to run a blog series on the topic, where we’ll explore the art, science, theory and practice. We will focus on the Principled Negotiation style developed by the Harvard Negotiation Project and cite some of the most respected texts on these subjects
. We’ll also pull insights and case studies gleaned from our twenty years of experience as a business communications firm, working with diverse groups of individuals, teams and organizations in a variety of business fields both in the United States and abroad.
As we break down the Principled Negotiation method, you’ll see how numerous communications and professional skills come into play. Emotional intelligence, analytical thinking, research and preparation, interpersonal skills and active listening are a few of the tools in a skilled negotiator’s arsenal. You may find you have emotional intelligence (EQ) in spades, but lack the analytical skills to continuously separate the people from the problems while in the heat of the moment. You’ll be able to assess your strengths and weaknesses and identify your focus areas.
We will also explore common challenges and pitfalls in negotiation and offer advice on how to overcome them. As well, you’ll learn negotiation for women and how gender plays into communications.
It’s our sincere hope that this blog series on negotiation arms you with the knowledge, theory and practical advice you need to start negotiating, so that over time you develop this critical communication skill and obtain more of what you want for yourself as a professional. If you are a businessperson who needs help with negotiation or you head up a team that needs help with conflict resolution, we encourage you to give us a call to discuss how one of our coaches might help. While self-education is key to improving communications skills, nothing beats real-world experience, or the help of an experienced, trusted coach who can work with you on your unique workplace challenges. Read more about our negotiation programs here.
Susan and the Executive Communicator Team