Good negotiating skills are learned over time and, when done well, can provide many benefits. However, new findings from a University of Phoenix survey found that while almost 60 percent of men are comfortable negotiating their salary, only 42 percent of women say the same.
“While women have made great strides to overcome gender inequality in the workplace, not negotiating well can have a significant impact on women’s earnings as they could be leaving additional pay on the table that accumulates over the course of their career,” said McCeil Johnson, senior director and dean of accreditation and regulatory compliance. “In my experience, women already possess many skills that make them natural, effective negotiators, and with practice, can enhance improving their negotiating abilities.”
Following are a few tips that women can use to improve their negotiating skills:
1. Know the value of your unique assets: Know your strengths and how your experiences can benefit the organization. Everything you bring to the negotiation table is part of life’s rich tapestry, whether you are fresh out of college, mid-career, male or female — your unique set of circumstances provides leverage for your situation. Observe and tailor your approach based on your situation.
2. Research: Research is an important aspect of the negotiation preparation process. For instance, when negotiating for a job or salary, come prepared with industry assessments of how people with similar experience to yours and for that type of position are compensated and what qualifies them to receive that level of compensation. Also research other benefits such as vacation, working from home or other perks that could be used as a bargaining tool.
3. Practice and get feedback: People underestimate how much preparation is required in negotiating. Develop and review your talking points and practice them with a friend or colleague who can provide honest feedback.
4. Be flexible: Customize the situation based on the people with whom you will be speaking. By learning as much as you can about them and their role within the company, you can assess how they will react to you and how they want you to react to them.
5. Listen: Listening is a critical skill in negotiating. Make sure you hear the offers given to you; the last thing you want to do is talk yourself out of a deal.
6. Be assertive, not aggressive: Tone and presentation are also major factors in negotiating; it is not what you say, but how you say it. Stay calm and present your position thoughtfully.
To achieve success in negotiating, consider the following:
1. Don’t go in blind: Know the desired outcome and find common ground. According to Bruce Patton, co-author of “Getting to Yes 2,” when you create a problem-solving atmosphere in which all parties feel safe to brainstorm options, you secure a win-win outcome in negotiations. Envision the “least restrictive alternative,” which is the minimum you are willing to accept during the negotiation.
2. Don’t get emotional: Showing passion without being overly emotional is a good approach. Practice keeping a steady cadence and tone, and control any tremor in your voice.
3. Don’t get personal: Your manager will give a raise because of your work accomplishments and not because of your personal situations. That means your rent, upcoming mortgage, number of children and the like should not be part of the conversation. Your work and career experience and accomplishments must be the focus.
4. Don’t fidget: Maintain eye contact and sit still. Awkward or sudden movements can make you seem nervous and less confident.