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Women Negotiation Skills

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Finding HappineLeadership by Design: Leadershipss at Work

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Akindotun Merino

Negotiation is an essential phenomenon for success in business and many affairs of life. It is a process by which people settle their differences while avoiding conflicts. A good negotiation is focused on seeking mutual benefits and maintaining a healthy relationship between two parties. Individuals good at this skill can settle deals at best arrangements, leading to the advancement of an organization. Improved professional relationships, long-term competitive advantage, and effectively managed conflicts are all advantages of successful negotiations. Negotiation is an essential facet of professional life. There comes ample of stages when one has to negotiate with others for approval of any proposal or due to the difference of opinion in some matter. Individuals weak at negotiation undoubtedly remain at a disadvantage as they cannot ask for what they want and cannot deny other’s opinion even if they don’t like it. Some people are blessed with innate ability to perform well at negotiation. They prove to be successful at negotiating and get their capabilities credited no matter how challenging the situation becomes. However, this may not be the case for everyone and especially for women.

The act of professional negotiation is critical for women as compared to men. For women, it represents them as greedy or desperate. It is also considered complicated by many women, who often hesitate in asking for their worth in the workplace. On the other hand, men are quite confident at negotiating agreements, partnerships, business deals, and more. They are encouraged for their negotiating skills inside and outside the workplace. Although workplace diversity is progressing all around the world, still women are considered to be less competitive than men in every aspect. When women step in the professional world, stereotype beliefs become a significant hurdle for them. Majority of people assume that men are highly competitive, win-lose negotiators, manipulative, and good leaders.  They are seen as essential assets to the organization who put successful results as priority. They prove not only beneficial for the organization but also remain successful in building a firm base for their interests. They not only ask privileges according to their achievements but also make superior realize their importance. A widely held assumption about women is that they are more accommodating. They try to preserve existing relationship by compromising and seeking win-win outcome while negotiating. This attitude does not only affect the company’s interest but also has a direct bearing on women’s pay scale and value at the workplace. On average, women make just 80 cents for every dollar a man makes, and the gap widens for minorities. Many accomplished women who are even more proficient than their male cohorts are found to be earning far less. The reason is that they are not asking for their worth. They prefer to remain at low levels than to confront their superiors and argue for their deserving place. They perform poor at negotiation because they are more sensitive. They try their best to avoid arguments as it might displease their colleagues and they will think wrong of them. Women are already struggling at workplaces so they don’t commit such steps that can further aggravate any difficulty for them. This phenomenon is leaving women behind in the race.

Negotiation is a highly marketable skill, which is considered as a critical leadership strategy. It becomes more crucial when you are in the leader’s seat as you have to deal with hundreds of employees, business partners, and competitors. Women can quickly develop an effective leadership style, but what they do struggle with is claiming the authority to lead. Women leaders have greater negotiating challenges than regular women. Many researchers and economic leaders all around the world believe that negotiation, in any context, is something women leaders don’t learn enough.

When it comes to negotiation skills, men are more rational and logical, while women are more emotional and intuitive. Men emphasize objectives by remaining dominant and authoritative. They utilize direct language and even use highly intensive language to persuade others. They tend to prolong the talk or confidently interrupt other parties if they feel it necessary.  Women remain passive and submissive most of the time. They focus more on maintaining relationships than on acquiring objectives. They generally stay on the back foot in settling deals with other parties. They use tentative speech patterns and talk carefully during personal interactions, which is perceived as less forceful. There is a constant thought revolving in women’s mind about how others are judging them and what do they feel about them. It interrupts the negotiation process and they get distracted from the real objectives. A negotiation is an act in which they are supposed to interact confidently and counter all arguments to get their proposal accepted. But they get depressed due to such sort of thoughts. It is quite natural because of the male dominant workplace environment. Women constantly undermine themselves with the feelings of others and how they are going to be perceived. Men work efficiently in performance-oriented situations. They remain confident even if they are not prepared and somehow improvise some solution in such scenarios.  On the other hand, women feel under-confident, even if they are thoroughly prepared.  It’s not that women are less qualified, but the fault lies in the fact that they continue to express doubts about their capabilities. It dramatically affects their performance and has a direct bearing on their pay scale.

READ ALSO; Dealing With Procrastination

In the workplace and business domain, negotiation is necessary for closing the pay and value gap. Women are not encouraged for effective negotiation to overcome these gaps. As a result, they settle for lower compensation agreements and initial salaries. Numerous resources and capabilities of many women will remain under-utilized if the stigma of asking is not eliminated. Women need to be encouraged and supported to propose as per their value to close the gender gap. As the age increases pay gap also increases, and it becomes difficult to reduce it while women keep struggling for leadership equality in senior age. In their book, Women Don’t Ask (2003), Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever remark, “While 57 percent of male Carnegie Mellon graduate business students negotiate their starting salaries, only 7 percent of women do so – resulting in male starting salaries 7.6 percent higher than those attained by women”. A lot of women have a habit of failing to ask for what they need, want, and deserve. It leads them to all kinds of unhappiness. They miss a lot of money, privileges, and opportunities which they deserve. Each woman must confront their superiors and argue logically for their raise or promotion. Otherwise, nothing is going to happen for them itself. Not asking for what they deserve is holding them back from reaching full potential and happiest self. The most common factor is that women are less likely to advocate for themselves. They are unable to represent and defend their needs and what they deserve. However, systemic issues and other external factors also play a significant part in the wage gap. Companies also discourage women who attempt to negotiate for a better salary while remaining comfortable with males who tried to demand a higher pay.

In our present society, boys and girls go through a different cultural process which can be a reason for gender-based competitive differences. Parents put their sons in more competitive situations and remain protective of their daughters from an early age. Boys are encouraged to take part in competitive athletic activities like baseball, football, basketball, soccer, and others. That’s how boys get introduced to the thrill of victory and the distress of defeat from the very start while girls remain confined to regular games like jump rope and hopscotch where competition is indirect.

One primary reason for low pay scales and negotiation challenges faced by women leaders is agreeableness. Psychology says that if you’re struggling to say “no” at work and have a constant need to please others, you might be putting your success at stake. Agreeableness also plays a significant role in weakening the negotiating skills of women. It can be observed that women are more agreeable than most of the men. Such women are usually more warm, selfless, friendly, and generous. They ‘don’t realize the cleverness of others and always have a positive approach. They believe that people are generally honest, decent, and trustworthy. Moreover, agreeable women remain over conscious of what other people think and always try to please them. It covers their self-esteem and neglects their own needs for meeting other ‘people’s needs.  Agreeableness causes silent harms to women. They seem warm, welcoming, and great for office morale on the surface. But in reality, they lead office towards inefficiency and decrease their credibility. They also avoid conflict and settle at compromises. ‘It’s a problem many women are facing today. They are not complaining about rude behavior, low salaries, and over workload at offices. Many CEOs or managers are unable to run offices according to them. They ‘don’t want to displease their employees and be judged as bossy or rude for implementing new policies. They often leave the decision-making to colleagues as they can’t reject them in any way. This all results in poor leadership and inefficiency. On average, such women have lower income and professional status than “disagreeable” people.

Being too agreeable can create great trouble for women leaders due to their key role in an organization. Being a leader, one has to make hard decisions and implement strict discipline for better running of the system. Agreeableness can get in their way and can lead them to fail at leadership. In reality, individuals high in agreeableness are often likely to be taken advantage of. They need to realize their weakness and work on it smartly. In situations where it seems problematic, the following steps can help agreeable women to protect themselves:-

  • Be aware of this trait and learn to turn down someone’s request when it’s necessary.
  • Don’t indulge in conflicts but also don’t let others take advantage of this fact. Use your authority to control suitably.
  • Set your priorities and boundaries for assisting others.

Moreover, experts have advised several approaches to help women overcome agreeableness and learn excellent negotiation skills. Because the gender pay and value gap is real. Instead of waiting for the world to bring revolution, each woman must turn the tables for herself and bring equality in the workplace. Following are a few techniques that can be adapted to be good at negotiation and confident working women:-

  1. Preparation before a Meeting

Proper preparation before entering bargaining is an aid to a good negotiator. It may include focused objectives, targeted goals, areas for trade, and alternatives to the stated targets. Also, a study of the brief history of negotiations between two parties should always be done. It can help determine previous agreements and common goals. Past outcomes can set the tone for current negotiations.

  1. Always know your unique value proposition (UVP) 

Sometimes, only working hard and achieving business targets are not enough. You have to make people around you realize your capabilities and effort you have put in the workplace. Your UVP defines your value to the organization with and without you. Remind them that you are not just an ordinary employee but also a valuable asset and a potential leader to the organization. Highlight your accomplishments, replacement value, experience, and qualifications.

  1. Remain receptive to feedback

Getting feedbacks can help women leaders improve their negotiation skills and solve company related problems. Criticism has several valuable benefits. It can help leaders asses the opinion and needs of their under commands. After critical analysis of the received feedback, leaders can improve their skills, work products, relationships, and meet expected results. It is also encouraged to ask questions to get to the root cause of the problem raised and find out possible solutions to fix them.

  1. Present multiple equivalent offers simultaneously (MESOs)

Don’t just restrict to only one offer but present multiple offers keeping your main objective intact in them. If other party rejects all the offer, ask them their opinion and requirements. Analyze smartly and come up with some deal which matches your shared goals and pleases the opposite group. This strategy reduces the chances of failure and promotes creative solutions.

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  1. Negotiate the process

Don’t present yourself on the low ground when it comes to negotiating. Carefully set essential details, including place/time of the meet, what your agenda will be, and who will present it. Don’t just agree with others without discussing your plans. Offering your demands clearly help promote focused talk.

 

  1. Keep Emotions Controlled

A good negotiator does not let his/her emotions come in between the negotiation process. It is important to note that your feelings should be in your control throughout the process. Negotiations can be frustrating and let emotion control your thinking, which can lead to unfavorable results. One should accept the fact that negotiations do not always give the desired outcome. But it doesn’t mean that one should lose his emotions over it and take steps which can put him in a worse position. Compromising and sacrificing their interest can also prove to be beneficial in some situations.

  1. Active Listening

Actively listening to the opposite party during the negotiation process is very important. A good negotiator deeply observes body languages and verbal communications to assess other’s intentions. It helps find areas for compromise during the meeting. It saves own time and effort. Negotiator straight away presents such offers that are consisted of mutual interests and minimum differences.

 

Dr. Akindotun Merino is a Professor of Psychology and a Mental Health Commissioner in California.
Share your successes and challenges:

Prof. Akindotun Merino
Jars Education Group
info@akinmerino.com
Text: 909.681.0530 or 0705 629 0985
YouTube.com/akinmerino
Instagram: @drakinmerino: Twitter: @drakindotun

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Mental Health

Anger Management (8)

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Anger Management

By Akindotun Merino
You’ve already picked a solution for your problem. Now it’s time to create a plan for its implementation.

The following are some guidelines when making a plan.

1. Keep your goal(s) central to your plan.

Every solution has a goal. The goal is the specific and measurable change that you want to achieve by implementing your solution. When you make a plan, make sure that all the steps and processes you outline are moving towards this goal.

2. Break down your action plan into concrete steps.

A good plan is concrete instead of abstract, specific instead of generic. Think of the different steps that you need to do in order to get to your ultimate goal and plan along those milestones. Note the deliverable per milestone. Indicate the timeline for each milestone. Identify the people responsible for each task.

 READ ALSO: Anger Management (7)

3. Note all the resources you would need.

There are two kinds of resources: human and material. Make a list of all human and material resources that you need to execute the action, and make sure that they are all available. If they are not available, add an extra action plan to procure them. You want to make sure that your plan is realistic given your resources.

4. Plan how the solution would be evaluated.
A good plan doesn’t just include the steps to execute the program. It should also include mechanisms for monitoring progress and evaluating results. An evaluation plan ensures that needs for plan revision can be surfaced.
An issue in contention will remain a hot issue unless the plan is implemented. It is only when concrete change can be observed that anger can be seriously addressed.

The following are some tips in implementing a solution.

Stick to your plan. Note the what, where, when and, who of your plan and follow it to the letter. This will keep your end of the bargain explicit and easy to monitor and evaluate. Deviating from the plan can result to additional anger, especially if you deviated in areas important to the other party.

Monitor progress and results. Keep track of whether or not your solution is accomplishing the goal. Make sure that you put everything on paper for ready reference later. Log down best practices, risks and obstacles encountered.

Reward and revise accordingly. If the solution is working, note progress and affirm the success. This gives the two parties a sense of accomplishment. More so, the next time they have a conflict, it can serve as testament to their ability to solve a problem.

If the solution is not working, gather feedback. Surface the reason why the solution does not seem to be working. Make the necessary changes so that you can revise the plan as needed.

Dr. Akindotun Merino is a Professor of Psychology, CEO of Jars Group and Mental Health Commissioner in California. Feel free to share your successes and challenges:

Prof. Akindotun Merino
info@akinmerino.com
YouTube.com/akinmerino
Instagram: @drakinmerino: Twitter: @drakindotun

 

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Mental Health

Anger Management (7)

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Anger Management

By Akindotun Merino

Consensus means unanimous agreement on an area of contention. Arriving at a consensus is the ideal resolution of bargaining. If both parties can find a solution that is agreeable to both of them, then anger can be prevented or reduced.

The following are some tips on how to arrive at a consensus:

Focus on interests rather than positions. Surface the underlying value that makes people take the position they do. For example, the interest behind a request for a salary increase may be financial security. If you can communicate to the other party that you acknowledge this need, and will only offer a position that takes financial security into consideration, then a consensus is more likely to happen.

READ ALSO: Anger Management (5)

Explore options together. Consensus is more likely if both parties are actively involved in the solution-making process. This ensures that there is increased communication about each party’s positions. It also ensures that resistances are addressed.

Increase sameness / reduce differentiation. A consensus is more likely if you can emphasize all the things that you and the other party have in common, and minimize all the things that make you different. An increased empathy can make finding common interests easier. It may also reduce psychological barriers to compromising. An example of increasing sameness/ reducing differences is an employer and employee temporarily setting aside their position disparity and looking at the problem as two stakeholders in the same organization.

Identifying Solutions
Working on a problem involves the process of coming up with possible solutions. The following are some ways two parties in disagreement can identify solutions to their problem.

  • Brainstorm. Brainstorming is the process of coming up with as many ideas as you can in the shortest time possible. It makes use of diversity of personalities in a group, so that one can come up with the widest range of fresh ideas. Quantity of ideas is more important than quality of ideas in the initial stage of brainstorming; you can filter out the bad ones later on with an in-depth review of their pros and cons.
  • Hypothesize. Hypothesizing means coming up with ‘what if’ scenarios based on intelligent guesses. A solution can be made from imagining alternative set-ups, and studying these alternative set-ups against facts and known data.
  • You may also look for a solution in the past. If a solution has worked before, perhaps it may work again. Find similar problems and study how it was handled. You don’t have to follow a model to the letter; you are always free to tweak it to fit the nuances of the current problem.
  • Invent Options. If there has been no precedence for a problem, it’s time to exercise one’s creativity and think of new options. A way to go about this is to list down each party’s interests and come up with proposed solutions that have benefits for each party.
  • Survey. If the two parties can’t come up with a solution between the two of them, maybe it’s time to seek other people’s point of view. Survey people with interest or background in the issue in contention. Finding an expert is possible. Just remember though, at the end of the day the decision is still yours. Identify a solution based on facts, not on someone’s opinion.

READ ALSO: Anger Management

Dr. Akindotun Merino is a Professor of Psychology, CEO of Jars Group and Mental Health Commissioner in California. Feel free to share your successes and challenges:

Prof. Akindotun Merino
info@akinmerino.com
YouTube.com/akinmerino
Instagram: @drakinmerino: Twitter: @drakindotun

 

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Mental Health

Anger Management (6)

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Anger Management

By Akindotun Merino

The escalation of anger in ‘hot’ situations can be easily prevented, if a system for discussing contentious issues is in place. In this module, we will discuss how to work effectively on the problem. Specifically, we will tackle constructive disagreement, negotiation tips, building a consensus and identifying solutions.

There is nothing wrong with disagreement. No two people are completely similar, therefore it’s inevitable that they would disagree on at least one issue. There’s also nothing wrong in having a position and defending it.

READ ALSO: Anger Management (5)

To make the most of a disagreement, you have to keep it constructive. The following are some of the elements of a constructive disagreement:

  • Solution-focus. The disagreement aims to find a workable compromise at the end of the discussion.
  • Mutual Respect. Even if the two parties do not agree with one another, courtesy is always a priority.
  • Win-Win Solution. Constructive disagreement is not geared towards getting the “one-up” on the other person. The premium is always on finding a solution that has benefits for both parties.
  • Reasonable Concessions. More often than not, a win-win solution means you won’t get your way completely. Some degree of sacrifice is necessary to meet the other person halfway. In constructive disagreement, parties are open to making reasonable concessions for the negotiation to move forward.
  • Learning-Focus. Parties in constructive disagreement see conflicts as opportunities to get feedback on how well a system works, so that necessary changes can be made. They also see it as a challenge to be flexible and creative in coming up with solutions for everyone’s gain.

Negotiations are sometimes a necessary part of arriving at a solution. When two parties are in a disagreement, there has to be a process that would surfaces areas of bargaining. When a person is given the opportunity to present his side and argue for his or her interests, anger is less likely to escalate.

The following are some tips on negotiation during a conflict:

  1. Note situational factors that can influence the negotiation process. Context is an important element in the negotiation process. The location of the meeting, the physical arrangement of room, as well as the time the meeting is held can positively or negatively influence the participants’ ability to listen and discern. For example, negotiations held in a noisy auditorium immediately after a stressful day can make participants irritable and less likely to compromise.
  2. Prepare! Before entering a negotiating table, make your research. Stack up on facts to back up your position, and anticipate the other party’s position. Having the right information can make the negotiation process run faster and more efficiently.
  3. Communicate clearly and effectively. Make sure that you state your needs and interests in a way that is not open to misinterpretation. Speak in a calm and controlled manner. Present arguments without personalization. Remember, your position can only be appreciated if it’s perceived accurately.
  4. Focus on the process as well as the content. It’s important that you pay attention not just to the words you and the other party are saying, but also the manner the discussion is running. For example, was everyone able to speak their position adequately, or is there an individual who dominates the conversation? Are there implicit or explicit coercions happening? Does the other person’s non-verbal behavior show openness and objectivity? All these things influence result, and you want to make sure that you have the most productive negotiation process that you can.
  5. Keep an open-mind. Lastly, enter a negotiation situation with an open mind. Be willing to listen and carefully consider what the other person has to say. Anticipate the possibility that you may have to change your beliefs and assumptions. Make concessions.

Dr. Akindotun Merino is a Professor of Psychology, CEO of Jars Group and Mental Health Commissioner in California. Feel free to share your successes and challenges:

Prof. Akindotun Merino
info@akinmerino.com
YouTube.com/akinmerino
Instagram: @drakinmerino: Twitter: @drakindotun

 

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