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Thursday, December 16, 2010

How to Negotiate Like a Girl

My husband says girls can’t throw. We throw like sissies, he says. Adding insult to injury, most men are such naturals that the only way they can throw like a girl is to use the “wrong hand.” It looks awkward and is inefficient at delivering the ball with speed and accuracy.

He’s right. I admit I throw like a girl. First off, I am a girl, and sadly, no one taught me to throw until I was an adult. However, powerful negotiation is one of those skills you don’t have to learn in youth. Learn how to be an excellent negotiator and you’ll feel as exhilarated as a little leaguer pitching a no-hitter.

Begin to negotiate like a powerful girl and create win-win situations for everyone involved. Begin with the basics and you’ll become a successful negotiator.

Emotion vs. Logic
One essential to negotiating is putting emotions in check. Workplace consultant and creator Robert Bacal says as we become more emotional, we lose the ability to think clearly. The more we state facts and eliminate emotional judgments, the more we “maintain control,” counsels Bacal.
Let’s say you want a raise. To negotiate effectively, you have to prepare by knowing your subject and seeing things from all sides. Often, that means becoming a mini expert, learning more about it than your boss—a position of power. Here’s how you can.
  1. Assess out how much of a raise you want. Research what others with your job earn, how often they receive raises, whether they get bonuses, and how their benefits structured. You are now armed to defend, with more logic than emotion, your increased salary.
  2. Explain why you deserve a raise. Point out what you have done for the company, what you plan to do, and what your unique skills are. Quantify what you’ll give and what the raise is worth to the company. Reminded your boss he can’t live without you.
  3. State when you want that bump in salary, putting yourself in the shoes of your boss. Consider your timing. Observe ahead of time what is happening in the company and what kind of resistance you may experience. Request your raise when you’ve just received a favorable review, a ringing client endorsement, or another job offer.
Women’s Intuition
Now that you’ve done your homework, you’re on your way to successful negotiation. Yet, don’t expect negotiation nirvana. You’ll probably still be nervous. However, when the stakes are high and your heart starts pounding, that’s the time to listen to your instincts and go with your gut. Remember, you’ve got feminine intuition–use it! Here’s how:
  1. Play dress-up. You can usually better identify with your audience by dressing similarly. If you have a boss that is part of the “old boy’s club,” be a girl and wear your heels and a classy skirt or dress with a sport coat. Do not break out the cleavage card. It’s never professional.
  2. Wear your “big-girl panties.” Stick to what you want. You are your own best ally. If you waver, you show that you don’t care about getting what you’re requesting. Write down what you want to happen, rehearse it and be prepared with evidence to support. Be prepared for an unfavorable response, though. Whatever happens, determine to be strong.
  3. Use the perfect blend of sugar and spice. Friendliness and likeability will take you much further than you think. However, being sugary-sweet will turn most bosses or prospect off and appear fake. According to Tim Sanders, author of The Likeability Factor, “realness” will help you more than adopting false, unnatural traits.
  4. Say what you want, then, zip it. After you’ve presented your case, ask for what you want. Making firm eye contact, state your monetary request, and promptly shut up! Don’t justify or explain. The pressure is now on the boss. Let him squirm. The moment you open your mouth to explain, your credibility is gone. When the answer is given, you may have to concede a bit, but now’s not the time. Know how low you are willing to drop, but don’t go there right away.
In summary, trust yourself and your talents. You will become better at negotiating when you practice. Find opportunities to hone your skills. High-priced boutiques or farmers’ markets are fun places to practice. You’ll find yourself more confident and in tune with your instincts. Stay firm. And, maybe, throw underhand next time a guy is watching.
Note: This post is an article I wrote for Wasatch Woman magazine in March/April 2008


  1. Great advice! One of the places I have always struggled is with the research. Do you have any advice on where can you find information on the salaries of your colleagues?

  2. Hi Jessica!

    I think if you go onto LinkedIn and ask a question relating to your job title and how much typical salaries are for that position, you'll be surprised how many interesting answers you'll get. I'd start there, before you go to a website calculator.

    Yes, there are a number of sites you can use to look up salaries, but I'm not sure they're going to give you what you want. Here are a few:


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