Hostage to Negotiation

I’ve spent many hours this month researching the topic of financial negotiation as it applies to women in the workplace. The data is thought-provoking, especially when you consider leadership competency and education. (If you’re interested in seeing why effective negotiation is critical to career success, especially for women, you can see that Forbes article here.)

One main concept I gleaned from this work is that most people (both men and women) express discomfort with the idea of having to negotiate things like a salary or benefits at a new job. In fact, any transaction where finances are involved becomes instantly more stressful when you add a negotiation component into the mix.

Here’s an example: In a highly scientific straw poll I conducted this week, most people said the excitement of purchasing a new car is dampened by the idea that they’ll have to negotiate the price. The effect is two-fold. They (1) hate having to haggle, and (2) always walk away feeling as though they could have done better. After all, if the other party agreed to the current terms, what else might they have agreed to?

You’d think we’d all be experts at this negotiation thing, given that we’re all doing it, all the time, in every aspect of our lives. Oh, sure, we don’t always call it that— we may call it bargaining, compromise, or conflict resolution, but it all amounts to the same thing.

“Fine. I’ll stay late to work tonight, if I can leave early for my son’s ballgame tomorrow”.

“Okay, I’ll be the designated driver if you agree we won’t stay out past midnight”.

“Yes, if you’ll start dinner, I will stop and pick up dry cleaning on the way home”.

Whether the situation is business or personal, there are 4 different types of negotiators.

Individualists focus on maximizing their own outcomes and don’t care much about what happens for the other side. According to studies, about 50% of negotiators fall into this category.

Cooperators work to maximize both their own and their counterparts’ results and try to make sure that both sides walk away happy. They compose between 25% and 35% of the population.

Competitives want to maximize the difference between their own outcome and the other side’s result. For these people, it’s not enough to win— the other side has to lose. They comprise 5% to 10% of the population.

Altruists (the unicorn of negotiators, quite rare) work to maximize the other side’s results rather than their own. (Note: This category is somewhat fluid- someone can be an altruist in one type of negotiation, and a different type of negotiator in another.)

Which type are you? Be honest, now. What about the people that you interact and negotiate with on a regular basis?

When you consider the idea that roughly 60% of negotiators either don’t care about your interest in a situation, or are actively working to minimize it, it becomes obvious that you’re not going to get the things you want unless you work to develop your own negotiation skills.

Here are some ways to tip the scales in your favor:

1. Speak up. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want, and state it clearly, so there is no misinterpretation.

2. Stop talking and listen. The other person will tell you what they want if you’ll be quiet long enough to hear it.

3. Consider the other perspective. What are their needs and pressures? If you ask open-ended questions that allow them to expand their thoughts, you’ll be better able to explain how their needs will be met.

4. Be patient, and don’t rush the discussion. Working out a deal that’s acceptable to both sides takes time.

5. Don’t give without receiving. That’s conceding, not negotiating, and you’re just setting yourself up for additional demands. The goal of negotiation should be satisfaction of interests on both sides, not “meeting demands”. Interests and demands are different things- their demand is what they are requesting, their interest is what they actually need.

6. Try not to take the other person’s negotiating tactics personally. Solve the problem at hand, and don’t let an unpleasant attitude or rude behavior sidetrack you from your goal.

4 thoughts on “Hostage to Negotiation”

  1. There is so much truth to this. Negotiating my pay in my workplace is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life! I thought I was literally going to die! In the end, it was totally worth it. This is such a great read. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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