3 Tips for Women to Negotiate to their Strengths
Getting what you want the way you want
If you're going to succeed in business and investing, it's imperative that you master the art of negotiation. Knowing what you want and how to push for it is an art, and one that takes time to master.
New research on how women negotiate sheds some light on the distinct challenges that we face when it comes to brokering results in our favor. According to research in the Journal of Consumer Research,
"If negotiating groups include one or more women, the tendency is to move to a middle ground or consensus decision…that is, picking and sticking with the middle because it's the easiest to rationalize."
The research found that in contrast men negotiating with men exhibit negotiating that involves going for extremes-asking for the moon and countering with rock bottom. This often works in favor of men, as the resulting compromise ends in a favorable position for both sides.
Women, on the other hand, tend to start in the middle and though the negotiations are less contentious, they lose more in the end than their male counterparts.
As Money concludes, "While this (compromise) sounds like a good thing, if you're a woman looking for a higher starting salary or larger raise, it can actually hurt you, the researchers said."
While the Money article was written with employee salary negotiations in mind, the principles hold true for women investors and entrepreneurs. Generally speaking, the female penchant for pragmatic, even-keeled negotiation can hurt us at the end of the day.
So, what's a woman to do? Do we abandon who we are and take on the male-dominant way of negotiation-throwing heavyweight punches until someone finally gives? Or can we find a way to still be pragmatic and get what we want?
Here are three key tips on negotiations that I think women can put into play to both get what they want and play to their natural strengths.
1. Do your homework
When it comes to negotiations, nothing tempers emotion more than a well-reasoned, fact-based argument. No matter how much someone wants to win a negotiation, it is very hard to argue against cold, hard facts. So, it's very important to do your homework before you get into a meeting with a potential counterpart.
Talking a real estate deal? Spend more time than you think you need understanding the market, the property, the opportunities, and the angles than the seller. Have your numbers and be prepared to back them up with research.
Buying a business or investing one? Spend the needed time pouring over the financials to see what others might miss.
Taking the time to do your homework not only disarms your opponent but also gives you the peace of mind to stick to your number when push comes to shove. If you have the information you need on hand, you can be confident in what you're asking.
2. Don't take no for an answer
Because women are prone to pragmatism, it can be easy, even when we have a solid case to take no for an answer. This doesn't mean we don't get anything…but it does mean we often get less.
If the person you're negotiating with pushes back with a no, be prepared to hold your ground. This should be much easier to do if you've done step number one above and have your research in hand to back up what you're asking for.
The trick here is to not ask for the moon, but to stick to what you know to be the right ask from the get go-and to not back down.
3. Be prepared to walk away
I get it. We live in a world that can sometimes feel stacked against women. So, it's easy to feel like the world is one filled with scarcity rather than opportunity. Given this, it's tempting to take less rather than to lose out entirely on a good deal.
But here's the thing. In the long run, giving into a bad deal now only compounds your loses in the future. Rather, be ready to cut your loses and move on to another good deal if reasoned negotiations go south.
The reality is there are plenty of good deals out there, and you will find something that works tomorrow-if you don't waste your time, and capital, on a bad deal today.