This post is brought to you as part of the coverage for the Grace Hopper Celebration, in Houston TX.
“You get what you incentivize”
Leading off with a chestnut about Richard Nixon and his dog Checkers, as a cautionary note on how NOT to negotiate, Katherine Monson and Becca Dewey delivered an informative and entertaining session on effective ways to approach the bargaining table. The example of Nixon feeding his dog a biscuit to stop him from chewing at the carpet, but only resulted in rewarding unwanted behavior, framed the discussion that negotiating is a process where success can be thwarted without a methodical and well-planned approach.
In calling on their experiences as negotiators for the aerospace, defense and entertainment industries,the speakers broke down the complex process in several understandable steps for anyone to use in their lives.
Avoiding the trap – Bargaining
When it comes to bargaining, two parties meet on some arbitrary level, and if that gets prolonged it only incentivizes the most stubborn or deceitful. For women engaged in positional bargaining, they can be perceived as selfish, pushy or greedy, which does not maximize value for anyone.
Negotiation is a framework with the goal towards solving problems, which women are just as successful as men when they choose to negotiate. What does that look like beyond a back and forth bargaining session? It starts with research and identifying what your interests are ahead of time. If you don’t know what your interests are then how will you know when you’ve been successful?
“K&B Negotiation. 2016”
Interests – What do you care about?
A very helpful visual to approaching a negotiation is picture the process as an iceberg and focusing on the part that can’t be seen. The stated positions (the part of the iceberg you can see) don’t explain why people are at the bargaining table, which because of this lack of data, can lead to unwanted results. By thinking about what your interests are, ahead of the process, this provides a clearer picture of priorities (buying a house, saving for children’s education, vacations, etc) and creates more options from which to build solutions.
Depending on the situation, this could also be an effective means of working with your counterpart to reach a solution, through talking about desired interests. Just make sure to clarify this is a separate stage of the negotiation and not the end point. A helpful phrase to use in these discussions would be, “Can you help me understand…?” or “What am I missing here?”
BATNA and ZOPA
If the process reaches a point where both parties are not able to reach a suitable agreement there is a measure to help identify when it’s best to walk away. BATNA, or Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement is the point where one or both parties understand that not reaching an agreement is more desirable than reaching one. The indicator can be if a salary range or package offered will only generate bitterness or falls far short of accomplishing set goals and in those cases, maybe the status quo is the better deal.
For women, the speakers warned to watch out for the gender trap. “Women are socialized to work with people and be more empathetic. If you’ve invested a lot of time to talk and negotiate you may be tempted to fall into the trap of “take a deal, any deal!” If that’s a situation you find yourself in, take a pause and assess if the conversation needs to continue.
“K&B Negotiation. 2016”
If both parties are able to articulate their goals and work towards a solution the next step is finding the ZOPA – Zone of Possible Agreement. The ZOPA is a combination of variables that both parties are able to achieve and close the deal. They may look something like taking a lower salary bump in lieu of receiving a deferred compensation plan, like a 401k or education savings plan match, that provides revenue streams for retirement or children’s schooling. This is where due diligence and interest planning ahead of time come in handy, because it enlarges the pie to develop more opportunities.
Remember, negotiating is a process and takes time and energy to develop those skills. For further information or if you’d like to connect with Katherine and Becca, they can be reached at k.bnegotiation AT gmail.com.
- Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide.
- Ask for It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want.
- A Toolkit for Women Seeking a Raise
- Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving in
- More Reasons Women Need to Negotiate Their Salaries.
- Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most