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How to Negotiate Like a Woman — and Win

negotiateNegotiation is different for women. I think of myself as a straight-shooter, and when it comes to negotiation, I'd like to think I can just do what the guys do and have the same odds of getting what I want.

Nope. Not-for-profit group Catalyst, as we've noted before, has found that women do ask for raises and promotions just as often as guys do, but they're less successful at getting them. Now, research from Michael Morris at the Columbia Business School and Emily Amanatullah, at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin, shows that both men and women find women who are aggressive negotiators to be "unlikeable." Men don't have this problem, needless to say. And it doesn't bode well for your odds of success.

The researchers did uncover one situation in which female negotiators are not penalized for being aggressive. It's when women are negotiating on behalf of someone else. If you're trying to get a raise for your deputy, you have the same odds of success as a guy would. So even at the negotiating table, most people still expect women to be caring, nurturing, and taking care of others. Luckily, the researchers also have some ideas about how you can use this very persistent stereotype to your advantage.

I still think that asking nicely, being specific, and being willing to walk away form the basis of getting what you want. But, according to the researchers, it's also smart to address the stereotypes at work here – and to hold your ground anyways. Here's what they suggest:

1. Use objective measures that are hard to ignore. Showing that you're paid less than other people in your position can be effective no matter what your gender. So if there's any hard data that will help your case, make sure you know it cold.

2. Love your job. Have we mentioned how much you love your job? You do. Believe it or not, this is a key point in your negotiation. You love representing your company, you love working with your colleagues. You cannot make this too clear. Why?

  • Emphasizing how happy you are in your work is another way of showing that you are embedded in a web of positive relationships in your company. By doing this, you are helping to keep yourself 'likeable' even though the act of negotiating may temporarily make you seem otherwise. By saying how much you like your job, you show that you fit in.
  • By showing how well you fit in, you're saying, in a subtle way, that what's good for you, and what keeps you happy (more money! More flexibility!) is good for the company.

3. Show that you have internal support. If you can credibly say that someone higher up in the organization suggested you ask for a raise, do so. It'll make you seem less selfish. (I know that no guy would have to worry about seeming selfish, but this is the real world. Do what it takes). Obviously, you don't want to get the other person in trouble, so be careful.

4. Try not to make it all about you and your achievements. Yes, this sounds completely counterintuitive, and you certainly don't want to ignore everything you've accomplished. But you also want to emphasize how much you team has done. Or show how your promotion will be good for the entire organization.

Ready? Take a deep breath. Go get 'em! Then, email us at more [at] onethingnew [dot] com, or send us a message on twitter at @onethingnew, and tell us how you did. We're rooting for you! — KW

Image courtesy of flickr user Darwin Bell



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