Women in business have the same objectives, the same purpose and thrive in the same environment as their male counterparts. However, because of temperamental differences between men and women, women are often perceived as “caregivers” and hence not as tough as men during negotiations. In fact, a lot of times we do not realize that being the “nurturer” often stands women at an advantage when it comes to representative negotiations i.e. negotiating on behalf of others. That is why women are tough negotiators when they represent their organizations.
For women entrepreneurs and professionals alike, negotiations are a part of everyday life. From investor pitches to resources for projects, negotiation skills play a key role in determining your success. Becoming a good negotiator is all about determination and confidence. Firstly, women need to let go of the theories that state men find negotiations ‘exciting’ while women find them ‘nerve-racking’. We, as women, need to tap into our innate strengths and focus on developing our own art of negotiation. A change in perspective and inculcating certain habits is all we need, to ace in yet another aspect of business.
Set clear objectives
A lot of times, we make the mistake of entering a negotiation without knowing exactly what we want. We may have a vague idea of a desired outcome, but that’s not enough. You need to ask yourself, “What do I want from this negotiation?” Think about all the things that are important to you and then prioritize to get a clear picture. Once you know what you want, you can structure your arguments more objectively.
Prepare Prepare Prepare
Anxiety often wrecks negotiations. The anxiety associated with getting a desired outcome sometimes gets unnecessarily topped up with the anxiety that this isn’t really a women’s forte. But guess what? You can make anxiety work to your advantage, by preparing more for it. Invest time to research extensively and prepare for every possibility that may arise during your discussion. Visualize your negotiation multiple times before actually entering the room.
Put your best foot forward
While negotiating, make all the points that you had prepared for. Be firm, but polite, while making your statements. Try to cover everything that you had planned to discuss during your preparation. Don’t be interrupted by other voices while making your point. Also pay close attention to your body language and the words that you choose. Exuberating confidence while negotiating is half the battle won. Give the other side a chance to ask you questions and be prepared to answer them confidently.
Listen and Learn
A negotiation is always about two sides. Listen to the other side and try to understand what’s important to them. Ask questions and carefully listen to the answers. Remember that information is a tool during a negotiation process and asking the right questions is the best way to get the information you need. This is where women score better than men, given they are more likely to listen and evaluate the other person’s perspective. Sometimes asking questions could also uncover inconsistencies in the pitch being made by the other side.
Rethink your approach
Research shows that women fare much better at representative negotiations i.e. negotiating on behalf of others rather than negotiating for one’s own benefit. You can use this fact to your advantage. You need to start thinking that an outcome that benefits you, ends up benefiting the business overall. Always remind yourself that you are negotiating for a bigger purpose than yourself.
Learn from your experiences
Fear has no place in a negotiation. Whether it’s the fear of getting into the negotiation or the fear of hearing a ‘no’. No matter how hard you try, you may not always get everything you want. Always focus on the positives and learn from the areas that didn’t work out.
In recent times, we see more and more women emerging as entrepreneurs and business leaders. This goes on to show that women are acing every aspect of business. Women have the innate ability to listen, build relationships, be compassionate and consider the perspective of others. We need to employ our true strengths and create our own techniques to master the art of negotiations.
Written by – Arundhoti Banerjee, Associate Vice President & Head – Business Strategy & Digital, Xpress Money. (This article was earlier published in Khaleej Times)