This is what I am coming to understand.
As you seek to get better at all of the aspects of your work, it is better to do something as well as you can, now, than not do it at all because you have not yet mastered the skills needed.
This is what I mean.
A while back, I wrote a blog post on “how to market yourself.” And my point was that it may not matter all that much how you market yourself. Use almost any method (there are lots to choose from), but most of all, actually market yourself. You know – get out there and market yourself!
I’m ready to dispense almost the same advice about negotiation. Sure, there are better ways to negotiate. Aim for win-win; aim for collaboration; protect the relationship with the one(s) you negotiate with.
But most of all, negotiate. Ask for what you want. Let the other party ask you for what they want. Listen to each other. Ask, listen,…negotiate.
Now, there are plenty of valuable tips. Like these:
• From Women Don’t Ask: — Negotiation and the Gender Divide by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever:
Before we decide to negotiate for something we must be first dissatisfied with what we have. We need to believe that something else – more money, a better title, or a different division of household chores – would make us happier or more satisfied. But if we’re already satisfied with what we have or with what we’ve been offered, asking for something else might not occur to us. Ironically, this turns out to be a big problem for women: being satisfied with less.
• From Getting to Yes — Negotiating Agreement without Giving In (Second Edition) by Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton
Any method of negotiation may be fairly judged by three criteria: it should produce a wise agreement if agreement is possible. It should be efficient. And it should improve or at least not damage the relationship between the parties. A wise agreement is one which meets the legitimate interests of each side to the extent possible, resolves conflicting interests fairly, is durable, and takes community interests into account. (emphasis added).
Getting to Yes presents the four parts of the Principled Negotiation method:
1) Separate the PEOPLE from the Problem
2) Focus in INTERESTS, not Positions
3) Invent OPTIONS for Mutual Gain
4) Insist on Using Objective CRITERIA
But the real lesson comes from the title Women Don’t Ask. The counsel is this; after you know what you want in a negotiation, ask for what you want!
So Many Losers (“I Win, You Lose!”) – Where Are The Actual Practioneers Of “I Win, You Win, We All Win?”
I’ve been thinking about losing.
There are so many books about winning that winning seems to be the preferred default position.
But, I think, the way it is practiced in far too many instances, it is the “I win, you lose” approach to winning. And this is a very bad thing.
Business is still dominated by men, and as Deborah Tannen pointed out so long ago, men view conversations as a competition, with winners and losers. (sorry – I read it too long ago; don’t remember the precise book…).
Sales, negotiations, transactions, are still so often viewed as “win-lose,” in spite of the best efforts of Steven Covey and a legion of others to build a “win-win” culture.
When people think about negotiation they tend to think about win-lose – in other words, somebody’s going to win, and somebody’s going to lose. Many people go so far as to associate negotiation with the ability to “get them before they get you.” That’s not what The One Minute Negotiator is all about. One of the key messages from this book is that you can complete a negotiation without victimizing others. – or becoming a victim – in the process. Rather than fighting over a finite pie, you can use the skills taught in this book to actually create a bigger pie.
I hope he is right. I know it is possible, in many instances, in an ideal world. But… have you paid attention to our current climate? Take the idea of “bipartisanship,” which is, in its essence, a “win-win” approach. There are many who argue that even an attempt at bipartisanship is a “sell out.” Where can “win-win” even get a foothold in such a climate?
I am slowly coming to believe this – what happens in business shapes all of society. If people lie on their resumes (and 40% do, according to some studies), then people will lie everywhere. If people want to own the competition, and produce a string of “losers” in the process, then “win-lose” becomes the practice in almost every arena
We need some folks in busies to recommit to the actual practice of “win-win” – don’t you think?
What about you? Have you adopted the “win-win,” stance, or do you fall back to the “I win, you lose” approach to negotiation, and life? Help us out here – we need all the “let’s win together” thinking we can muster…
Women Don’t Make More Because They Still Don’t Ask – And Then, When They Do, They Are Penalized For It
Women don’t ask. They don’t ask for raises and promotions and better job opportunities. They don’t ask for recognition for the good work they do. They don’t ask for more help at home. In other words, women are much less likely than men to use negotiation to get what they want.
Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide
This really is an amazingly difficult unfairness. I presented the excellent book, Women Don’t Ask, back at the February, 2004 First Friday Book Synopsis. My colleague Karl Krayer presented their next book, Ask For it, at the May, 2009 First Friday Book Synopsis. The authors, Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, have been pounding away at this simple truth: women don’t make as much as men because they don’t ask for it.
And now, after championing this one simple truth, they have made another discovery: women who do ask for it are penalized for asking – because it is not a “feminine trait” to aggressively ask. So, not only do women have to start asking for more money, they have to learn to ask like a woman should ask.
Al of this was part of an excellent segment yesterday on All Things Considered. (Read the transcript, and listen to the segment, here).
Here are some key excerpts:
In the face of a persistent gender pay gap, researchers and women’s advocates are focusing on one little-discussed part of the problem: Women simply don’t ask for more money.
“I tell my graduate students that by not negotiating their job at the beginning of their career, they’re leaving anywhere between $1 million and $1.5 million on the table in lost earnings over their lifetime,” Linda Babcock says.
And so – just ask – right? Not so fast:
Babcock showed people videos of men and women asking for a raise, following the exact same script. People liked the man’s style and said, ‘Yes, pay him more.’ But the woman?
“People found that to be way too aggressive,” Babcock says. “She was successful in getting the money, but people did not like her. They thought she was too demanding. And this can have real consequences for a woman’s career.”
To be clear, both men and women thought this way.
Women can justify the request by saying their team leader, for example, thought they should ask for a raise. Or they can convince the boss their negotiating skills are good for the company. The trick, Babcock says, is to conform to a feminine stereotype: appear friendly, warm and concerned for others above yourself.
“I gotta say, that was very depressing!” she says with a laugh.
Here’s the challenge. If you are a woman, learn to ask for more (more money; more opportunities; more accounts; more of everything); then ask; but, ask while conforming to a feminine stereotype.
As I said – this is an amazingly difficult unfairness.
Weeks publishes, teaches, and consults on communications issues. As principal of Holly Weeks Communication, she consults and coaches on negotiation and written and conversational communications issues, with a special emphasis on sensitive and difficult problems. She is also an adjunct lecturer in Management Leadership and Decision Sciences, teaching the Arts of Communication, at the Harvard Kennedy School and Visiting Pro-Seminar Instructor in Communication and the Vision Speech at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She was previously an Associate in Communications in the Harvard Business School MBA Program. As a Distinguished Instructor, she taught Management Communication, and Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, at the Radcliffe Institute of Harvard University. And she taught Expository Writing at Harvard College. Weeks has a master’s diploma in literature from the University of Edinburgh and an AB cum laude in English language and literature from Harvard University. Her most recent published book is Failure to Communicate: How Conversations Go Wrong and What You Can Do to Right Them.
Here is a brief excerpt from my interview of Holly. To read the complete interview, please click here.
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Morris: Your formal education suggests that you prepared to become a classroom English teacher and you seem to have expanded the “classroom” to include a variety of constituencies, including corporate executives. Is that a fair assessment?
Weeks: I did become a teacher of literature and writing, and I haven’t strayed very far from it. Communication and teaching are at the heart of all my work. Literature is the best of all ways to see the great motivations and the great conflicts play themselves over and over in the great stories of the human condition. The motivations, conflicts, and stories will revolve around people trying to communicate, and often failing in complicated and consequential ways.
Writing and the teaching of writing are great schools for finding ways to help people understand and improve what they are trying to do, when what they are trying to do is difficult and subtle, a matter of art and skill rather than fact and procedure.
I’ve kept the teaching, the literature, and the writing but I’ve added to the communications collection—negotiation, conflict resolution, presentation, and, of course, tough conversations.
Morris: Many of the worst conversationalists are also very poor listeners. Why?
Weeks: Holding aside that some people are so easily distracted, or have such short attention spans altogether, that they can’t stay focused on the back and forth of conversation with the people in front of them—and I wouldn’t underestimate how often that’s the case—there are two reasons why poor conversationalists and poor listeners come in the same package. First, some people see conversation as serial monologues, often competitive monologues, in the guise of dialogue. If they are competitive, they aren’t trying to listen, or to communicate at all, really; they are trying to “win” the conversation. As listeners, they dismiss all of what they hear that they can’t use to score. If they are not competitive, they are simply waiting out their counterpart’s turn to talk so they can begin the next of their monologues.
Second, other poor listeners and worse conversationalists appear not to know what to do with what their counterparts say in conversation. They seem unsure how to respond to what they hear or don’t seem to have any context from which to respond. People say to me, “I don’t know what the next line is supposed to be.” They think of conversation more as a script than as an organic back-and-forth in the moment.
In both cases, the same people are often fine in actual monologue or in Q&A. And if two monologists or two scriptists are in conversation together, they’re fine. It’s mixing it up—monologist, scriptist, dialogist—that gives you a problem.
Morris: My own experience suggests that many communication problems are the result of not asking the right questions, or at least asking at the wrong time or with an inappropriate tone of voice. Your thoughts about that?
Weeks: I don’t believe that there is a single right time to ask a question in a difficult conversation and no other time will do. That would never work. It may be that asking the right question ahead of time would prevent a tough conversation, but that would require that, somehow, we divine a problem we don’t yet know about. That’s asking an awful lot of our intuition. I want people to have the skills to handle difficult conversations well specifically because preventing them entirely is so iffy.
The main reason I urge people to develop neutral as a way of speaking is to sidestep the problem of inappropriate tone of voice. If you’re not actively neutral, your counterpart may hear an inappropriate tone of voice better than what you actually say. Of course, your counterpart may accuse you of inappropriate tone no matter what you intend or do. Even then neutrality is your best friend when it comes to tone.
Two more thoughts on questions: It may simply be that the tough conversation you find yourself in doesn’t lend itself to a question and answer format—you and your counterpart might want to talk together, in regular conversation style, about the problem. Or it may be that the kinds of questions asked seem antagonistic, accusatory, or self-justifying, even if they are not intended to be. In that case, you might use the Mock Interview strategies or In Your Shoes tactics described in Failure to Communicate.
Morris: How important is body language?
Weeks: Tone is all the non-verbal part of the message we’re giving, and body language is the physical manifestation of tone. It matters as much as tone of voice does. In practice, that means that neutral body language is as valuable as a neutral tone of voice because body language and facial expression inflect your message just as your voice does. You don’t want your counterpart reading—or misreading—your body language instead of listening to what you say. Neutrality is not necessarily natural in a tough conversation; it’s an acquired skill and you use it so you will be heard without distortion.
Morris: In What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, Marshall Goldsmith identifies 20 of what he characterizes as “transactional flaws.” One of the most common is #5. Beginning a sentence with “No,” “But,” or “However.” That is, using negative qualifiers that send the message “I’m right, you’re wrong” or “You don’t fully understand.” How to respond when someone does this?
Weeks: I’m not entirely certain that negative qualifiers are a flaw in everyone’s mind. Competitive speakers who approach tough conversations as debates to be won want to be right and have you be wrong. Let me say that this is an odd way to handle a difficult conversation—it’s like trying to win a foxtrot against the person you’re dancing with—but it’s not an uncommon way for people with confirmed habits and a small range of skill. You may want to speak to the tactic behind the qualifier simply, clearly, and neutrally: “I don’t see this as a right/wrong situation.” “The problem isn’t that I don’t understand, although we may not agree.” You’ll find your own words.
On the other hand, there are people I call “innocent offenders”. They have no intention at all of being off-putting; they simply have unfortunate speech patterns and are unaware of the impression they give. But negative qualifiers are off-putting, so I would still speak to the tactic simply, clearly, and neutrally: “When you say ‘no’ or ‘but’, I can’t tell if you mean to push back on what I’m saying or not.” The advantage of using the same characteristics in reply to the two different scenarios is that you don’t have to guess which is which.
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To read the complete interview, please click here.
Weeks invites you to visit her Web site: http://www.hollyweeks.com/.
I also suggest you check out the wealth of resources at http://hbdm.harvardbusiness.org/email/form/dailyalert/index.html to which Weeks is a frequent and valuable contributor.