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Combining prosperous work lives and balanced personal lives
March 2004

My goal is to bring you news, insights, and information about leading a balanced and prosperous life.

    In this issue, you'll find:
  1. Negotiating Your Way to Success
  2. BossWoman coaching
  3. Up and coming workshops
1. Negotiating Your Way to Success

Many people think of negotiation as a skill that labor negotiators need. However, anyone who wants to be a good communicator needs the skill of negotiation. Here is a sample of the situations where negotiation skills will help you get more of what you want and help others to do the same.

  • Clients, customers, patients, and students on how to deliver the best product or service.
  • Employers on salaries, job descriptions, and responsibilities.
  • Employees and colleagues on priorities, job descriptions, and responsibilities.
  • Vendors on standards of products and services.
  • Relationship partners on how to reciprocally and mutually meet the needs of both people.
  • Family members or housemates on space, resources, responsibilities, and standards of cleanliness.
Negotiation Styles
To learn more about how women leaders can develop negotiation skills, I talked to Dr. A. J. Schuler, a psychologist who owns Schuler Solutions, Inc., a speaking, consulting, and leadership coaching business. A.J., as he likes to be called, combines his business background with his understanding of human behavior to help people and organizations develop excellence in both leadership and team performance. One of his favorite seminar and coaching topics is negotiation, in part because this skill is so essential to the smooth functioning of businesses and organizations. (A.J. will be offering a workshop on "Negotiating Your Way to Success" at the April 27, 2004 Women's Leadership Alliance- see below).

A.J. started our discussion by defining negotiation as an interactive communication process that takes place whenever we want something from someone else or someone wants something from us. He says that while there are at least five styles of negotiation, most people will usually be most comfortable with using one or two styles. However, if you rigidly apply your natural style in all situations, you will be at a disadvantage in situations where a different style would be a better fit. For example, you might want to use a more open style with someone you trust and a less assertive style with a stranger in a public place. It is in your best interest to familiarize yourself with each style so you can chose from among them when needed. In his workshops, A.J. uses the Thomas-Kulmann Conflict Model to describe the five styles of negotiation. He discussed the advantages and disadvantages of each with me.

  1. Avoiding. If this is your favorite style you try to avoid conflict as much as possible, often avoiding both people and issues that you find troublesome or threatening. The problem with this style when it is used indiscriminately is that it works in the short-term and causes problems in the long-term. The husband of one of my clients avoided conflict with her by saying, "Well, let's talk about that." But he never brought the issues up again, and his non-action infuriated his wife. This strategy is useful when an issue is unimportant to you or the other person. The old adage of "picking your battles" is good advice.
  2. Accommodating. This style is the one used by "nice" people who do favors for others, defer to their expertise, appease, and are easily led by others. Overuse of accommodation can lead to women giving up too much and failing to advance their own interests. You might think that other people will like you for being so accommodating but curiously they will begin to resent you for leading them to feel over-advantaged in the relationship. A. J. reminded me that the very background that leads women to be able to empathize with others' feelings can also help us understand the other person's needs to craft successful solutions that will advance the interests of all parties. Accommodation is helpful, though, when you are in the early stages of a relationship or when the issues you are accommodating on are unimportant to you.
  3. Compromising. When you and the other person split the difference without deeper examination of your mutual issues and needs, neither of you gets what you want. The classic example of this outcome is when a couple decides to eat at a German restaurant because one of them has a taste for French cuisine and the other wants Chinese. So they have a meal which neither of them wants or likes. Compromise is seldom a favored style but in situations where people are inclined to chose compromise, a better strategy might be to accommodate and take turns. That way both people get what they want half the time.
  4. Competing. When most people think about labor negotiators they think of this style. Competing has its place when hard bargaining is needed to take a strong uncompromising stand on something of great value particularly when the other person doesn't feel as strongly about the issue. Overused it can lead to mistrust and dislike of the aggression behind the style and it does not contribute to building long-term personal or business relationships.
  5. Collaborating. When using this style people aim toward reconciling their interests through win-win solutions. Instead of thinking of the negotiation as a zero-sum game in which one person loses and the other one wins, both people try to create a "bigger pie" in which both parties win. This style has as its advantage a high probability that both people will get what they need and will build a great working relationship at the same time. Its main disadvantage is that it takes time to explore and listen to the underlying needs, concerns and fears of both people. Collaboration requires creative brainstorming of multiple possible solutions, a time consuming but effective strategy for insuring creative ways of meeting both people's needs.
A.J. says no one style is right or wrong, but some styles work better in certain situations than others. He says that people can learn to broaden their style. At work it might be possible to team up with coworkers whose styles complement your own when you are negotiating. He says that women negotiators have a particular challenge to overcome the role expectations of women as flighty and flirtatious without appearing so direct that we may be seen as confrontational. Although he recommends that women avoid either extreme, he says that with experience women will find their own comfortable place, and the confidence to be themselves.

Steps in the Negotiation Process

  1. Prepare. Like many human interactions, negotiation will go smoother if you spend some time figuring out what you want and what you think the other party wants. Try to state the bottom line you want to hold to. This is especially important in making major purchases. In some situations your preparation might involve research like knowing the going price for an appliance. When you have accurate information you will present a strong position. A. J.. finds that women who prepare well for a negotiation can cancel out any extraneous gender issues that may otherwise derail a successful negotiation.
  2. Set goals and limits. To paraphrase the song, "The Gambler," "You need to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, and know when to run." Know that you have other choices and what they are. Be clear about what your limits are and what you are willing to do to enforce those limits.
  3. Speak clearly in small sound bites. Don't overload your listener with too much information. Avoid gender biased expressions like "sorta" "kinda" that weaken your position.
  4. Listen effectively. Monitor yourself (your gut feelings) at the same time that you pay attention to your negotiation partner. Paraphrase what the other party is saying so that you are clear about what you are hearing. Ask the other to do the same.
  5. Manage your emotions by maintaining emotional distance. A common concern of women leaders if that they might get their feelings hurt or burst into tears. Here are some ways to keep your cool:
    • Whatever the situation, remember the other person's position is about his or her needs, not about you.
    • If things get too intense, push the magic pause button. Take a break and regroup yourself.
    • Stay cool. Dr. Schuler warns that professional negotiators will sometimes feign loud outbursts at strategic points in time, in a purposeful fashion to put "the opponent" off center. As a rule, don't try this tactic; it can backfire because it makes you look like you can't control your emotions. Instead A.J. recommends using silence to your advantage: It is a natural human reaction, especially during conflict when we are anxious to fill up the silence. But anxious people tend to say things that erode their positions. By being silent at the right moments, you will appear strong and confident.
  6. Know when and how to bring the process to a close. One of my clients asked for her ideal salary during a job interview. After she got the job with that salary, she found out that another woman was hired on the same day for a similar position but for a lower salary. The only difference: my client asked. So ask for what you need; you might get it. Sometimes asking is the best negotiation strategy of all.
Negotiation is just a label we place on communication designed to help us get what we want and need, while perhaps helping others do the same.

Susan Robison

Donaldson, Michael C. & Donaldson, Mimi. (1996). "Negotiating for Dummies." Foster City, CA: IDG Books Worldwide, Inc.
Roger Fisher and William Ury (1991, 2nd ed.). "Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In." N.Y.: Penguin Books.
G. Richard Shell. (1999). "Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People." N.Y.: Penguin Books.
Kenneth W. Thomas. (2002). "Introduction to Conflict Management: Improving Performance Using the TKI." Palo Alto, CA: CPP Inc.

2. BossWoman Coaching

About the publisher: Susan Robison, Ph.D. is a professional coach, speaker, author and seminar leader. She loves to coach women who want improvement in:

  • work-life balance,
  • career transitions,
  • building your business or practice,
  • time management,
  • increasing productivity.
If you are feeling stuck on the way to your ideal life, give Susan a call for a complementary half-hour coaching session.

She provides keynotes and seminars to business and organizations on the topics of:

  • leadership strategies for women,
  • relationships,
  • work-life balance,
  • change.
She offers her audiences a follow-up coaching session because she knows that workshops don't work.

Contact Susan for your coaching, speaking, or seminar needs at Susan@BossWoman.org or at 410-465-5892.

3. Up and coming workshops

Professional Development for Women Day
-Susan Robison will offer a concurrent session on "Permanent Whitewater: Dealing with Change and Transition"
-Sponsor: Clemson University
-Date: May 21, 2004; 9-4 (Susan's presentation from 11:25-12:30)
-Place: Washington Dulles Airport Marriott
-Fee: $195
-For more information call: Kay James at 1-864-656-2200 or visit www.clemson.edu/success

Spring Educational Conference: Fast Forward - Leading and Succeeding in the 21st Century
-Dr. A.J. Schuler will offer a concurrent session on "Negotiating Your Way to Success"
-Sponsor: Women's Leadership Alliance
-Place: Holiday Inn Select Baltimore North in Timonium, MD
-Fee: $59 for members; $69 for non-members
-To register: Call Mary Branning at 410-653-5067
Dr. Schuler also offers full day Negotiation Boot Camps, designed to teach you the ins and outs of planning for - and creating success - in negotiations? To find out more about his workshops, newsletter, and speaking schedule, contact him at (703) 370-6545; AJ@SchulerSolutions.com or visit his website at www.SchulerSolutions.com.

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