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5 limiting beliefs of negotiation busted

Slide by Wies Bratby.

With almost everyone in isolation, there’s new life being breathed into webinars. On my 8th week of working from home, I have seen countless of webinars on crisis communications (and marketing), leading a virtual team and the impacts of COVID-19 in whatever industry one is working in. One such webinar is Wies Bratby‘s “Negotiation skills: Safeguarding your career”. Hosted by LeanIn Netherlands, it was aimed at changing the perspectives around negotiation so that women actually do it for themselves and with pleasure.

Why negotiate?

Loads of research show that women do not negotiate their job offers as actively as men. Women are better at negotiating for those dear to them like their children, their partners, and even their communities (ever heard of the feminist movement?) but never for themselves. It’s nature and nurture all rolled into one. We do not want to be seen as selfish and greedy when the truth is, negotiating our salaries mean negotiating for our families too since the lack of it means we are leaving money on the table that could support them. Not negotiating our job offers is also one of the reasons why the gender pay gap exists.

Infographic by World Economic Forum

This gap is also one of the reasons why Wies Bratby aims to educate women about negotiation. A lawyer, former HR Director and master negotiator herself, she has been at the other end of the table and knows first-hand that when the HR Director says, “that’s our budget limit”, you can still ask for 5% more.

It is a webinar that is as timely as work-from-home tips in this time when some companies announce bankruptcy while some just keep hiring. There is opportunity for career movement and for women, an opening to negotiate their next salary.

What should be in your negotiation suitcase

1. Mindset

Bratby named five beliefs that keep women from negotiating for themselves: (1) thinking of this moment as a disaster, (2) rewards follow automatically with hardwork, (3) negotiating for one’s salary is no big deal, (4) they are terrible at negotiating, and (5) that negotiating might hurt their relationships.

“This is an opportunity”

Highly connected with the current crisis, the first belief was “This is a disaster!” Bratby however pushed for seeing the opportunities the crisis brings with it. With businesses assessing and re-assessing the situation, it is time to negotiate a more just set-up.

With domestic chores piling-up while working from home with kids, women can negotiate a fairer division of work at home. With almost everyone cooped up at home, it is a chance to reach out to those who work for the companies women would like to work for and have a virtual coffee.

“Advocate for yourself”

The second belief is about women thinking that their work can speak for itself. Bratby asserted that women will not get the recognition they deserve if they keep quiet. “You have to be the squeaky wheel. The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” she articulated.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

You might think, “why would my boss care?” Truth is, turnover costs emplpyers 100-200% of the leaving employees’ salary from placing the job advert to a successful onboarding (check research by Cascio, et al.). Some research even places this to as high as 400% depending on the quality of the hire. Take this fact with you when you go to the negotiation table.

“It is a big deal”

While women believe that their compensation is no big deal, Bratby added that not negotiating lead to a bigger pay gap in men and women. Below is a visual representation of this gap if women do not negotiate their salaries.

Slide by Wies Bratby.

If it will take 99.5 years for the gender parity to be achieved worldwide, this is quite a big issue. So think about that the next time you attend a negotiation session.

“You are good at it!”

Women are also used to believe that they are just bad at negotiating when negotiations are actually focused on win-win solutions. With women’s empathetic nature, they are more apt to listen to the other party’s concerns which leads to collaboration.

This part reminded me of the famous arm wrestle exercise I once did in an ECWO negotiation workshop. It’s a good drill to break assumptions that getting more for yourself means less for others. As Stephen Covey once said, “Think win-win”!

“It improves relationships”

The last belief which could be the most popular is the assumption that negotiating for oneself hurts relationships. “You are only improving the relationship when you have meaningful conversations,” she explained.

2. Strategies

Women not negotiating for themselves have a lot to do with mindset. It takes self-confidence to go for it which is fed by a strong belief in one’s self-worth and simply knowing one’s value. Simply put: “how can you convince someone of your value if you don’t believe it yourself?”

One strategy that Bratby shared during the webinar is keeping what she calls a “Brag Book” (“Boost Book” for those who do not like using the word “Brag”) where one lists the reasons why she kicks ass. It started with listing the “50 reasons why you’re awesome in 5 minutes”, a kickstarter to a habit to write down a couple of reasons why you kick ass everyday.

The reasons can be personal or professional. She adviced the participants to spend a good 5-10 minutes with this book everyday. She swore that it has been a game changer for her and her clients.

How can you convince someone of your value if you don’t believe it yourself?

3. Practice

The last piece of this trilogy is practice. Bratby urged the attendees to practice with whom they can as much as they can until they feel comfortable asking for what they want. It also helps to think of the different scenarios that can happen and the questions that will be asked during the negotiation to be completely ready.

Most often, the other party will say no. Here are some useful questions to ask when they do just that.

In other words

The period we are in right now is an opportunity to review your value. Get out there and do your homework. Do not accept the first salary rate that your future employer offers. Retrace your tracks and the wins you have been offering your current employer. Ask for that raise. They might say no. That does not mean you don’t deserve it. Keep in mind that your value does not decrease by someone’s inability to see it. Stop leaving money that is yours on the table. Close the gender pay gap. And those notebooks you’ve been collecting? Turn one into a “Brag Book”, will you? #

More posts like this?

I hope this helps you in your next negotiation meeting! For more articles like this, leave your email address below:

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Additional resources

(While “Getting to Yes” was mentioned during the webinar, I have put together the additional ones.)

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