The Challenge Of Being A Woman Who Negotiates

Women need guidance on how to be successful during a negotiation
Women need guidance on how to be successful during a negotiation
Image Credit: Commonwealth Foundation

I think that we all realize that negotiating is hard. It turns out that if you are a woman, negotiating is even harder. However, despite these difficulties and uphill challenges, women do negotiate and they do negotiate successfully. The challenge that women face is that in order to be successful negotiators, they need to play by a different set of rules than the men who are negotiating seem to play by. What women need are a set of negotiating skills and negotiation tactics that women negotiators can use to level the playing field in negotiation scenarios.

The Challenges That Women Face When Negotiating

So, what are the barriers that women negotiators face? By now, most of us are aware that women appear to face significant hurdles in negotiation. To begin with, women are often penalized for negotiating on their own behalf. In research that was done it was found that both male and female study participants were less interested in working with women who attempted to negotiate a better salary than they were with men who tried to negotiate a higher salary. The fact that women negotiators are more often less likely to initiate salary negotiations than men appears to be due at least in part to women’s awareness that negotiating could trigger this type of social backlash at the office.

It turns out that during a negotiation, people are more likely to lie to female negotiators than to male negotiators. During a negotiation women were lied to more often simply because participants viewed them as being less competent than men are and thus less likely to question their lies. Additionally, during a negotiation, both men and women also were more likely to give male negotiators preferential treatment by disclosing their hidden interests. I think that we can all agree that such stereotypes and biased treatment can significantly hinder a women’s negotiated outcomes, putting her at an unfair advantage. The big question for negotiators is how can we remedy this state of affairs?

Tips for Helping Women Achieve Better Results at the Negotiation Table

The first thing that women need to realize when they are negotiating is that they need to come across as being non-threating to the other side. This suggestion comes from other women who are successful negotiators. Past advice from experts such as Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg who has encouraged women to combine an assertive message during a negotiation with smiles, friendly gestures, and other non-threatening and traditionally feminine behavior.

During a negotiation, women must work to find ways to become a team player. Women have also been encouraged to increase the odds of getting what they want during a negotiation by pointing out how their requests would benefit the people involved in the negotiation rather than just themselves. This approach can work successfully because it conforms to the gender stereotype that women are particularly concerned about others.

Finally, women must incorporate defensive measures into their set of negotiation skills. All negotiators, but women in particular, can guard against being taken advantage of during a negotiation by engaging in thorough preparation and taking the time to test the other side’s claims. If during a negotiation a women is told that something is true, she would be best served by testing this claim by talking to friends who know more about the topic or getting a second opinion.

What All Of This Means For You

Negotiating is hard work. Every time that we enter into a new negotiation, we are facing many different challenges that may prevent us from being able to reach a deal with the other side. It turns out that if you are a woman, you will be facing even more challenges that a man will be. By recognizing gender inequality in negotiations as a shared problem, we can take steps to both lessen the burden on women and promote more productive negotiations.

When women show up to negotiate, the deck is already stacked against them. They are penalized simply for being willing to negotiate on their own behalf. During negotiations, people are more willing to lie to women than men. The other side may also be willing to disclose their hidden interests to men instead of women. During a negotiation women have to make an effort to come across as being non-threating. They also have to be a team player and find ways to make sure that their ideas can benefit everyone involved. Understanding that others may try to take advantage of them, women need to take defensive measures during a negotiation.

There is no reason that a woman cannot be as successful as a man during a negotiation. Women do need to understand that when they enter into a negotiation they will be starting off at a disadvantage just because of the way that society works. The good news is that with just a little bit of effort on their part, they can overcome the things that could hold them back. With this knowledge, the days of women not being able to do as well as men during a negotiation should now be behind us!

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that women should attempt to set up a negotiation so that they’ll be negotiating with other women?

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