How to remove self-importance from self-promotion and still be your badass self

I was working with a client, “Sally,” a very talented art director and designer with many credits, awards and years behind her name. Working through a career transition, I asked her to give me the unapologetic list of the things she’s really good at, and she demurred. She stuttered a little and said, “Really, I have to answer that? Isn’t it all in my résumé?”

Haha. No.

It’s always bowls me over that no matter how seasoned and accomplished we are, we all seem to share the same cultural DNA of doubt, and distaste for self-promotion. So I said, “Here, let me get you started. Say, ‘The best and highest use of my skill and expertise is to allow me to be the soul of your brand.’”

Sally twisted her mouth into a gobsmacked shape, and before she could deny I continued playing her role. “What I love doing most is being the guardian of your brand…making sure that from the first touch point to the last is a seamless experience for your market and for everyone who works for you.”

Sally then says, “Stop. I’ll never remember this. I have to write it down.”

When we are called upon to talk about ourselves, it’s as if we’re all Peter Pan before sewing on the shadow. We forget our three-dimensionality. It’s right next to us, but somehow just out of our sight line. What we fear is being perceived as a swaggering braggart, but what’s underneath that is the nagging belief that we’re frauds. We’re just not all that.

Let’s agree that those are all fabricated thoughts. Yes, they’re born out of the culture in part, but let’s just let them loose for a second and entertain something different.

What we are really after is removing self-importance from self-promotion. What we get when we do that is a narrative that frames who we are for others. In negotiation terms, it’s a story that frames your value as a benefit to your bargaining partner. And know this: that benefit usually translates to bottom line results.

Honestly, we know what we’re good at. We put our shadows on, full of dimension, capacity and feeling and walk through the world every single day. We may not have the skill to wordsmith our undeniable value, but if we take a look back at our careers, we can all make a bullet-point list of our major accomplishments, experiences, awards and recognitions. That’s your starting point.

Tell me about me

To help you unearth your undeniable value, I have a little exercise you might want to undertake with a few colleagues and friends. It’s called the “Tell Me About Me” exercise, and here’s how you do it:

  1. Send an email to five or seven current and former colleagues, plus a couple of friends who know you and your work well.
  2. Tell them you have a few questions you’d like them to answer that will help you get a sense of your contribution and value.
  3. Tell them to be forthright and direct.
  4. Tell them you will not reply, other than to say ‘thank you’; you will not deny, or argue for your limitations or criticize them for their responses. Your questions are forensic, not solicitous.
  5. Give them a deadline for responding.

Here are the questions:

  1. If you were to describe me to someone, what would you say?
  2. What do you think is unique about my me/my work?
  3. What part of the process of working with me was most valuable? Least valuable?
  4. Where do you think I can improve?
  5. Anything else?

I guarantee you will be humbled and amazed by the responses; you will discover common themes, even perfectly phrased copy you’ll want permission to use. As you read the responses you may also discover that your colleagues and friends value skills or behaviors that you’d like to retire. In other words, you’ll find some mismatched perceptions that will help you refine brand you.

Go. Do. Be your badass self.

Want more of this? Register for Strategic Conversations: How to Network, Influence, Negotiate and Lead.

Starts September 8. But hurry, the online class always sells out fast.


Is your self worth reflected in your paycheck?

© Jessica Hagy

© Jessica Hagy

Yesterday I asked my friend, a successful wealth advisor, if money was her main motivator. She said emphatically, “No, never,” adding that all she ever wanted was “freedom, autonomy and security.” Her main motivators—her values and priorities—are what put money in her pocketbook.

I asked her if she had always been paid what she was worth, and her answer stunned me. She said, “I never stuck around long anywhere that I wasn’t valued for my services. I either got what I asked for or I kept moving…because I’m worth it.”

That’s a perspective that successful women seem to have in common. Their self worth dictates they net worth. They value themselves first and foremost.

If you are giving away your skills and hard earned intellectual property for anything less than you’re worth, or you’re serving a market that can’t afford what you’d like to be making, you really need to ask yourself some hard questions.

Is it self-doubt and low self-esteem? Are you really committed to your highest goals and priorities? 

If we’re going to Lean In to our careers and businesses, we also need to Lean In to ourselves first. Raise your consciousness and your self-respect and the money will follow.

Something to noodle on...

Now registering:

Strategic Conversations: How to Network, Influence, Negotiate and Lead

  • Sept. 8, 15, 22, 29
  • 3 p.m. Pacific | 6 p.m. Eastern
  • $395

Register HERE.

The unvarnished truth about what really happens when you hire a negotiation consultant

In case you're wondering what we do all day--that is, when Victoria or I are not writing (here, or here, or here) or speaking or training -- here's a little tale about the core of our business -- private negotiation consulting. Get ready for the unvarnished truth.

It starts with an email. A little missive usually tinged with some kind of urgency, upset, worry or regret. Like this:

I just finished my third interview with Badass Tech Giant for Lead Product Manager and I'm on the verge of getting an offer. I have no idea what to ask for and I've frankly never done a good job of negotiating. I usually fold and say yes to whatever is offered. Like most tech companies, it's run by men and I think they're going to lowball me. Can you help? 

Or a phone call like this:

I own the patent to an invention that a Badass Mega Corporation wants. I need to craft a deal that will help me retain control, but frankly [everyone is always so frank...weird] I may need to leverage them with a rival interest. Tell me you can help me!

Then Victoria and I determine who is the best fit for the potential client. "This is part negotiation and part career development, and it has Lisa written all over it," Victoria says. Or, "I don't know anything about patents," Lisa says, to which Victoria responds, "Well, neither do I, but what 25 years as a commercial litigator gives me is the skill to figure it out."

The next step is negotiating about negotiation.

After people get over the shock about our immediate response to their query, we ask a boatload of diagnostic questions, the heart and soul of interest-based negotiation, to find out what their needs, goals and preferences are. And their fears. Lots of that.  Then we tell people, "you can hire us for $350 an hour, or we can settle on a mutually agreeable flat rate."

If we were talking in person, this is the point at which we would see our prospective client's eyes glaze over. "You mean I have to negotiate with the negotiators?" To which we say, "Relax. We're just having a conversation, getting to know each other, and finding a way to bring each other value."

At this point, people want to know about process and outcomes.

Over the years, Victoria and I would share notes about our clients, and source each other for support and two-for-the-price-of-one brainstorming. As a result, we discovered we were routinely engaging in 10 common themes or areas that we then captured into our Strategic Negotiation Planning process. 

  1. Assess Your Career
  2. Research Your Value
  3. Construct Your Narratives
  4. Gather Your Support System
  5. Prioritize Your Requirements
  6. Sequence Your Ask
  7. Identify the Decision Makers
  8. Develop Scripts and Stock Phrases
  9. Practice Your Ask
  10. Completion

But what people really want, and what they really get, is transformation.

We like to say, Be ready, your DNA is going to be altered.  We like to say, Let's turn your $3,500 investment into $35,000.

It's all true and possible. But when people are testing the waters and sniffing around the edges for what we can deliver, making claims about transformation sounds huckstery and smells of white patent leather. 

So in the course of our conversations, we listen. We hear the themes so often expressed by women everywhere:

Fear of conflict, rejection and the word no; fear of asking for too much; fear of being perceived as demanding or selfish; underestimating our value; not having a plan; constantly over delivering without recognition, promotion or raises; having responsibility but no authority; being a yes addict.

So How Does it All End?

In the end, we make a deal. We bond as women, first, and client/consultants next. We agree on a rate that is a match between the value we deliver in the hands of our market: you. The truth is, we serve multiple markets--from the C-suite six-figure exec to the hourly-wage administrative assistant, so every client is different. And getting to yes with each client is in and of itself a lesson in negotiation for our clients and for us.

The takeaway here is that you are already learning to negotiate when you negotiate your relationship with us. I had a conversation recently with a IT software engineer who was stunned that I would respond to her query personally and so quickly. I felt a pang of guilt that our branding or media coverage might have induced a sort of bloated, unapproachable aura. I reminded her that out mission is to transform lives, one woman at a time, and that where ever you are, we are.

This is where the transformation begins...

Help Your Negotiation Consultant Help You

If you're using a business consultant, you're far from alone. Last year, Bloomberg Business reported that management consulting in the U.S. had generated $39.3 billion in revenues the previous year.

That's a lot of money to waste.

Few executives and managers, however, are skilled at the effective use of consulting services. And too few consultants know how to best advise their business clients.

I've been in the consulting business since I was 28 years old, providing legal advice to individuals, partnerships, corporate executives and in-house counsel. I didn't think of myself as a consultant at the time. I thought of myself as a trained assassin. The more I consult with businesses, however, the more I realize I'm doing what I did my entire career, just without an opponent countering my every move.

They teach lawyers on day one that what you need to convince another lawyer (i.e., a Judge) is authority and you grow used to having authority beneath your feet. When I asked myself how clients could best help their consultants help them, I turned to health care professionals who pioneered the field of shared decision-making. That, after all, is what consulting is. Shared decision-making

Here then are the top 5 strategies recommended by medical providers, re-cast to help you help your consultant help you.

Read on here.

Lean Into Your Career with a Kickass Strategic Negotiation Plan

In a workshop recently, someone asked me for a definition of negotiation. I said it's "a conversation leading to good agreement." Turns out that's pretty close to the definition. But what caught my attention was the derivation of the term:

Negotiation (n.) early 15c., from Old French negociacion "business, trade," and directly from Latin negotiationem (nominative negotiatio) "business, traffic," noun of action from past participle stem of negotiari "carry on business, do business, act as a banker," from negotium "a business, employment, occupation, affair (public or private)," also "difficulty, pains, trouble, labor," literally "lack of leisure," from neg- "not" (see deny) + otium "ease, leisure." The sense expansion from "doing business" to also include "bargaining" about anything took place in Latin.

No wonder we feel paralyzed by negotiation..."Business, not easy."

That is a message we've been running with since the 15th century--and you know that perspective probably goes back to the first time our ancestors had the brilliant idea of trading resources. We humans have been gritting our teeth about an activity that's vital to much of human endeavor and essential to our survival. That's a lot of collective angst.

So you could also say that our collective angst is informing our present experience. Our present choices. And our present choices have a huge impact on our futures.

And yet in our training and consulting experience when women learn the vocabulary and strategies of negotiation and use them intentionally, they (almost to a person) say, "Oh! That was way easier than I thought it would be," and, "It was actually fun." I have a theory about why that is:

Possibility makes us giddy.

When we collect new experiences that disrupt old beliefs, we have nothing less than a survival tactic that gives us a new confidence and a new edge. So, knowledge is power, and when we put the knowledge into action repeatedly, we start building new neural pathways. We start changing our futures. We start having fun.

And all that fun needs to be connected to your strategic plan.

What? You don't have a strategic plan? I know. That's why our new online course, Strategic Conversations is built around building out a 10-step strategic plan. A strategic plan for your career, and a strategic plan for negotiation. And this is how you will lean back into your career bones.

Here's what you'll accomplish in this training program:

  • Develop a strategic plan (we’ll give you the template) for any negotiation, and dovetail it with your strategic career plan (even if you think you don’t have one).
  • Learn the vocabulary, strategies and tactics of both interest-based negotiation and competitive bargaining so you’ll be armed and dangerous, and at choice in any negotiation setting.
  • Apply those strategies by practicing in our weekly calls on salary negotiations, dealing with difficult situations, problem solving, networking with intention, and more.
  • Research your market value, understand how to deal with requests for salary history, make an aggressive first offer, and trade across issues.

Strategic Conversations online course starts September 8. Here's who it's for:

  • Women who want to ascend to the next level, remove the barriers to success, and deal with the pesky double-bind cultural issues (you know, "don't be bossy, but don't be a wimp" or "don't be selfish, but don't be a doormat").
  • Women who are engaged in their work and passionate about it--whether you're an employee or run a business of your own.
  • Work teams, affinity groups, women's initiatives and even mastermind groups who know that learning to negotiate is key to your personal and professional aspirations.

For more info, course outline and to register, go here.

  • Sept. 8, 15, 22, 29
  • 3 P.M. PT  |  6 P.M. ET
  • Only 20 spaces
  • $395 

"Most people are insecure about the way they negotiate. As part of our ongoing programming for women at Shutterstock, there was overwhelming interest in negotiation training. We realized that across departments, everyone needs to negotiate internally and externally on a daily basis. 

She Negotiates stood out as the obvious choice from the many options we explored. Lisa tailored a workshop specifically to our needs. Her deep knowledge and warm demeanor made her an excellent instructor. The highly anticipated workshop filled up quickly, and the roleplaying exercises and variety of strategies provided skills that were immediately applicable. Lisa also provided a structure for us to continue developing independently and to support each other across departments."  
--Erin McCue, UX Designer, Shutterstock, Inc.

reframing the leader 'bitch'

Sheryl Sandberg talks about how female leaders, from toddlerhood to CEO must contend with the word bossy, aka, bitch. 

Lemme 'splain. You know that woman you work with...the one who's always speaking up, asserting her take on things and assuming everyone will follow her lead? The one who's fast on the draw, self-assured, confident, maybe al little enigmatic, interrupts your train of thought, and persistently entreats you to adopt her point of view?

You know her all too well. She's the one that will do anything to forward her agenda and get ahead. She's a powerhouse. And you avoid her at all costs.

Yeah, you know, the bitch.

You might never be inclined to call her a leader, even though her traits are classically associated with (male?) leadership.

I invite you to see things in a different light.

You and I, my friend, like all of our sisters (and brothers), have drunk the Bias Kool-Aid. The Bias runs deep, informed by eons of cultural conditioning that tells us women should not, must not, ever be opinionated, contentious, demanding or self-serving, and should instead be accommodating, conciliatory and operate at all times for the greater good. In other words, shut up, overwork and overproduce, don't rock the boat or ever ask for anything in return.

This week, I want you to consider making friends with the Bitch. Yes, the leader. Ask her to lunch. Ask her what she wants and needs, and what she's passionate about. Ask her where she needs support. What you discover may just transform your relationship with power, and lead to an influential partnership in which you bring your innate strengths and work/life experiences to accomplish a common goal.

She's not a bitch. She's you on your best day.

And if we want the workplace to look more like us, we need both of you to see each other in another light.

5 Rules for Men Who Negotiate with Women

Don't make these bush league mistakes when negotiating with women

Don't make these bush league mistakes when negotiating with women

It hasn't seemed fair to the guys for the women to be getting all the negotiation advice. So we've written five tips for men when negotiating with women. 

It may seem to you as if you're simply having a pleasant conversation with a woman applicant, a lawyer seeking equity partnership, a business woman angling for the C-suite or even a clerical employee seeking to move into management. If she's bold enough to be negotiating on her own behalf, assume that she knows what she's doing. No one ever got hornswaggled by over-estimating their opponent but many is the negotiator who doesn't know what hit him as a result of underestimating the preparation, skill and savvy of their bargaining partner.

Check out our newest negotiation post on LinkedIn, Five Things Men Shouldn't Do When Negotiating with Women here.

Be the smartest kid on negotiation block by framing and anchoring

Les Liaisons dangereuses.jpg

In the political arena, the power of framing is generally called "spin."  You needn't, however, be an expert at renaming torture "coercive interrogation techniques" to become skilled at framing your demands during negotiations. 

The Power of Framing

Frames are cognitive shortcuts that  help us organize complex phenomena into coherent, understandable categories. When we label a phenomenon, we give meaning to some aspects of what is observed, while discounting other aspects because they appear irrelevant or counter-intuitive.

Thus, frames provide meaning through selective simplification, by filtering people's perceptions and providing them with a field of vision for a problem. To demonstrate the power of framing, researchers asked subjects questions that contained suggestions of size, number and duration.  The impact of the framing terms -- short and tall, for instance -- were striking.

When asked how long a movie was, research subjects' average estimate was 199 minutes, 69 minutes longer than when they were asked how short the movie was (130 minutes). When asked how tall the basketball player was, research subjects' average estimate was 79 inches, ten inches taller than when asked how short he was (69 inches). Research subjects were also profoundly affected by numerical ranges.  When asked whether they'd tried "5 or 10" headache products, subjects' answers averaged 5.2.  When given the option of "2 or 3" headache products, they averaged 3.3.

A common negotiation frame treats the difference between offers and counter-offers at the point of impasse as the total amount in controversy.  If, for example, Dawn opened negotiations at $1.5  million and has, in the course of negotiation moved to $600,000, while Harry  commenced negotiations at $250,000 and has moved to $550,000 at the point of impasse, the negotiators will tend to  focus upon the reasonable division of the $50,000 delta rather than upon the total $550,000 offer or the total $600,000 demand.   

Focusing solely upon the value that separates the parties reframes the subject matter of the negotiation as the avoidance of the dispute's continued cost rather than the "fair," or "just" or "reasonable" value of the loss at issue, often unfairly so.   

And don't think that attorneys, judges and sophisticated commercial clients are immune to the effects of anchoring and framing.  

The Power of Anchoring

We've discussed before Adam Galinsky's excellent short article When to Make the First Offer in Negotiations. As Galinksy notes:

Research into human judgment has found that how we perceive a particular offer's value is highly influenced by any relevant number that enters the negotiation environment. Because they pull judgments toward themselves, these numerical values are known as anchors. In situations of great ambiguity and uncertainty, first offers have a strong anchoring effect—they exert a strong pull throughout the rest of the negotiation. Even when people know that a particular anchor should not influence their judgments, they are often incapable of resisting its influence. As a result, they insufficiently adjust their valuations away from the anchor.

That the anchoring effect is not limited to the unsophisticated or uneducated is demonstrated  in their article Inside the Judicial Mind.  The authors explained that they tested the effect of anchoring on federal magistrates 

by providing the[m] with a description of a serious personal injury suit in which liability was clear but the amount of damages was in dispute. [They] asked half of the judges to indicate what they thought an appropriate damage award would be in light of the plaintiff’s extensive injuries [and] the other half . . . the same question, but [not until they'd] rule[d] on a motion to dismiss the case on the ground that the plaintiff had failed to meet the $75,000 jurisdictional minimum for a diversity case.

The motion had no merit, but it had an effect. [The authors] found that the motion did have a large effect on the judges’ damage awards.Those judges who did not rule on the motion awarded, on average, $1,249,000, while those judges who did rule on the motion awarded, on average, only $882,000. The frivolous motion to dismiss, which forced the judges to consider whether the case was worth more than $75,000, lowered damage awards by 29 percent. These results suggest that judges are affected by anchors, even those that may be unrelated to the likely value of the case.

You see how subject to influence we are. We're suckers for it. 

Question everything. Then frame everything else in a way that favors you.

Negotiating with the Novel in Your Drawer

You didn't mean to do it. It was a Sunday and you were rummaging through your cupboards and drawers looking for paper clips and you just accidentally opened that drawer. The drawer that emits heat waves of angst every time you even so much as brush past it. The Novel Drawer. You run your hand over the first page and gently lift it from its resting place. You peel a few pages forward and read the words with your head turned sideways-just in case it's bad. Disappointing. One line, a few paragraphs, entire pages, and soon you're sitting in the big overstuffed chair with your pencil, loving your creation.

That night, that same Sunday night, the heat waves coming from the drawer slip past the blood-brain barrier and startle you awake. Your pencil lurches into your hand and you grab your journal and capture the message from the ether.

The alarm goes off at 5 a.m. and three lunches, two drop-offs and too many meetings later, all metaphor is drained from your body. You promise yourself that tomorrow is a writing day. Tomorrow is Tuesday andTuesdays are good for writing. (There it is, your negotiated compromise.) Your other child, your other job, lies abandoned again, waiting to be adopted by a real writer. One who really cares.

(I'm whispering this just to you. You know this place. And just between you and me, I know this place. And we both know the only real thing missing is commitment. Not a grudgingly negotiated compromise. You can answer the question, "What will it take to create the space to say yes to my writing life?" That's a truly great diagnostic question, but be careful to notice that most of your answers will be crafty little rationalizations those harpies in your head make up.)

In the end, you can't stand the thought of abandoning your child, so you carve out two blocks of 15 minutes and set a timer. You do this for several days until you realize you can't stop at 15 minutes. So you set the timer for 30 minutes. And soon, you've carved out 30 minutes a day, then half a Saturday, and even a long weekend

Along the way the harpies try to renegotiate with you. They remind you that you're just an accountant, or a lawyer, and not Virginia Woolf or Twyla Tharp or Mozart. You scold them for not cooperating (Tit for Tat) and tell them their breath is fowl and to take a hike on a crumbling cliff. 

Then once upon a time, just yesterday, you push "send."

You know your other child will not survive through wishful thinking. You must commit. You must commit to your dreams before the years multiply like missing socks in the laundry you did instead.

McKinsey study finds companies where women who pirouette with Post-it notes plastered on their bodies perform better

Imagine I’m a woman (because I am) and I’ve just read the 527th article/post/piece on what’s what’s wrong with me (I did). Now imagine each piece of advice, every caution, every top 10 list, plastered to my body on a Post-it note (see photo.) And finally, imagine what might happen if I try to do a pirouette (Amazing.)

Apparently lots of women have been found attempting this feat, but the gender blowback has been so problematic that McKinsey & Company commissioned a study.

“In a 2013 study conducted by McKinsey & Company as part of it’s global partnership with the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Dance, women were 10 times more likely to do pirouettes when dressed with Post-it notes.  The study suggests that the companies where women are most likely to do pirouettes with Post-its are also the companies that perform best.

“Confirming the existence of the gender gap—most notably in the composition of corporate management choreography – the McKinsey study offers fact-based insights into the importance for companies of fostering the development of Post-it note plastered, pirouette-ing women in top choreographic arenas so that a greater number attain positions of high responsibility.

“Finally, building on these insights and observations, and highlighting the main barriers to female pirouette-ing in top choreographic arenas, this study seeks to begin the practical debate of how to make the transition from awareness to the implementation of change.”

(More Top 10 lists coming your way.)

The study goes on to say that the biggest contributors to the problem are women themselves. (Big surprise.) We pick the wrong color and wrong size Post-its most often, and even when we do pick the right color and size, we rarely ask for more, putting our leadership trajectories and earning potentials at risk. Compounding the issue, when we do ask for more, we tend to be strident and use four-letter words at alarming levels.

When asked about the advancement of women in her organization, Yahoo's Marissa Meyer said, "I'm not inclined to promote women based on gender, but frankly the woman pirouetting with the most Post-it notes at Yahoo has just been named head of our Women's Initiative." She added, "I've prevailed on the board of directors not to punish her for it."

Paid for by the She Negotiates "There's Nothing Wrong with You" Campaign.

WWPOD? What Would Peggy Olson Do?

We've posted our first article over at Linked In about the things men do and women don't that lets them continue to outlearn us.

Take a look. There's a lively discussion going on in the comments section.

There's a world of great advice at the Professional Women topic on LinkedIn that you'll want to follow as well.

LinkedIn just gets better and better. I was a fan way back in the day when lawyers using LinkedIn merited an entire article in the American Bar Association Journal (an article I was pictured in but can no longer find by googling it; that's how long ago it was!)

If "Nice" is Not a Negotiation Strategy, What Is?

As everyone in academics and the mainstream media has been reporting, the two greatest obstacles to women asking for and getting what they deserve in business and the professions are their reluctance to self-serve and the social sanctions imposed on them when they do.  The most recent example of this type of mainstream coverage appeared in a New Yorker blog last week warning women about the dangers of negotiating

The danger of men negotiating to impasse: shock and awe.

The danger of men negotiating to impasse: shock and awe.

As a side note, please remember that the "danger" inherent in women negotiating to impasse is that they might make less money or accrue less power to themselves. When men negotiate to impasse, we generally get physical violence or all-out war. See e.g., all of human history.

As we've too often said, self-serving not only challenges women’s internal cultural barriers (I’m supposed to be generous, self-sacrificing, kind, pliant, deferential and supportive) it crosses the gender expectations of others, leading them to harshly criticize women’s ambitious career moves when they wouldn’t take exception to the identical behavior in a man.

Value Creating Negotiation as a Way of Life

The mission of She Negotiates – to end the income and leadership gender gap – will not be achieved by women finding new ways to hide their ambition – simultaneously manipulating greater rewards for themselves while pretending they’re not doing so.

Women don't like doing that because one of our highest values is authenticity.

The good news is that authenticity is one of the most powerful mutual benefit negotiation tactics. Just as we've earlier warned women that being "nice" or "relentlessly pleasant" is not a negotiation strategy but a tactic (ingratiation) so are all the other sometimes useful "tactics" such as curiosity, warmth, tit for tat, log rolling, small talk and the like.

Mutual benefit negotiation is not a trick.

It’s a discipline, a state of mind, a practice, a way of looking at the world. It requires commitment to a principle and not simply a set of techniques. This isn’t just my opinion nor simply my experience. It’s been proven in the lab by many social scientists and negotiation experts, including one of the authors of the must-read Negotiation Genius.

In Getting More Out of Analogical Training in Negotiations, Harvard Business School Professor and Negotiation Genius co-author Max Bazerman warned that people who learn value-creating “interest-based” or mutual benefit negotiation skills as discrete techniques, “have great difficulty transferring th[ose] skills to new tasks.”  Perhaps more importantly, if you train people in a single skill like log-rolling, they’ll tend to apply that skill in novel situations where it does more harm than good.

The key is not technique but general negotiation principles (such as, ‘value can be created,’ or ‘it is important to understand how parties’ interests interrelate’). Although everyone falls prey to the “two secrets” or “ten tips” for getting a raise this year, it’s better to change your point of view than it is to apply a set of new rules to an old situation.

It’s Just a Conversation Leading to Agreement

When you begin to look at negotiation as a conversation that seeks to create mutual benefit for all parties, i.e., a mutual problem to be solved rather than a strategy to win, you can intelligently and strategically choose those negotiation strategies or tactics that are best suited to the problem at hand. 

In academic-speak, a change in attitude toward the negotiation enterprise, “facilitates successful transfer to a broader range of new negotiation situations and enhances the ability to implement diverse value-creating strategies, including ones never previously encountered.”

How Do I Do That?

The first step to a successful mutual-benefit negotiation style is to stop thinking about give and take as a zero-sum game. In that game, what I win, you lose and what you lose, I win. That’s the adversarial legal process reduced to two words – zero sum. It’s also every board game you ever played from Candy Land to Words With Friends.

Sure, it’s fun to win and there are those of us for whom its so much fun, we make our living out of the effort. As a litigator and trial attorney, I didn’t even want to know how to negotiate better because negotiation meant compromise and I didn’t want to compromise.

I. Wanted. To. Win.

When I finally got bored with that (30 years! later) I found collaborative, problem solving, dispute resolution to offer far greater rewards, much deeper personal satisfaction, and an intellectual challenge equal to or better than the game of winning substantive legal issues with litigation strategies designed to bring the other side to its knees.

Once you start seeing any potential conflict (I want more money, for instance, which presumably is in conflict with your employer’s desire to pay you less or your clients' or customers' desire to pay you less for your services or products) as a problem to be solved rather a game to be won, you immediately begin to uncover opportunities for mutual gain. And when you lead by offering the benefit rather than asking for the concession, you side-step that messy gender problem.

It’s not a trick. It’s a way of life. Join us!


"Nice" Is Not a Strategy

She Negotiates appreciatesThe New Yorker's recent coverage of women's negotiation challenges in Lean Out: The Dangers for Women Who Negotiate.

We're disappointed, however, that the vast majority of Lean Out is devoted to the "news" that women who negotiate face gender bias and should routinely frame their proposals as other-serving, i.e., by being "nice." 

Though a useful reference to the contentious dispute resolution tactic of ingratiation,  "nice" is not a negotiation strategy. Nor does it serve us when we need to bring an uncooperative bargaining partner back into line by rolling up a virtual newspaper and smacking him over the nose with it. Playing "tit for tat" is, after all, the Fifth Commandment for negotiating women.

The best advice is buried at the end of The New Yorker article: sit in the front of the bus. 

Let me quote journalist Maria Konnikova's exact quote in bold letters,

to suggest that women should be wary of asserting themselves in the workplace would be like telling Rosa Parks not to sit in the front of a bus. 

I know that Professors Linda Babcock and Hannah Riley Bowles do teach women powerful negotiation strategies and tactics. The only strategic advice contained in reporter Maria Konnikova's article, however, is that women offer an explanation for [their] demands that gives a legitimate reason that the other side finds persuasive [that] signal[s] concern for the broader organization.

Good advice, as far as it goes, but insufficient on so many levels that the trumpeted message that we'd better not try it overwhelms the limited instruction provided. 

I've covered this issue before at Forbes in my post Must Women Negotiate Like Uncle Tom?

As I emphasized there,

We don’t see a lot of gender-specific negotiation advice for men that asks them to be more masculine. And when certain negotiation strategies or tactics are prescribed as superior – collaborative interest-based bargaining vs. competitive distributive negotiation for instance – it’s never framed as something men should do to avoid the negative effects of their gender on their character or likability.

[They should - competitive tactics too often lead to impasse and hurting stalemates]

The question I want to raise about all this women-and-negotiation research is whether we’re being told  to become Uncle Toms, shucking and jiving our way through the workplace, fawning, ingratiating, smiling, and de-meaning ourselves by pretending to be someone we’re not – girls who dissemble and wheedle rather than women who command respect and negotiate the rewards that go with it.

Women should be knowledgeable about, but not defeated by, the indisputable and well-documented fact that social sanctions are generally doled out to women who don't "act their gender." But that's true in everything we do, even when we're doing exactly what our gender dictates, breast-feeding, for instance, at the time our infants are hungry, which often means we're with them in a public place. 

Negotiation is a skill 

Negotiation is a highly sophisticated skill. It's a plan, a process, a strategy and a set of tactics. It's as difficult as, say, trying a case to a jury or arguing your brief to the judge. When I started doing that, there were very few women role models and hardly any good advice for us to avoid the then-quite-open discrimination against women attorneys in the courtroom. 

Learning to walk the razor's edge of gender bias was the least degree of difficulty in my own professional learning curve. A critical degree to be sure, but less important than mastering the art of direct and cross-examination, persuasive speaking, strategic litigation tactics, the intricacies of my clients' business ventures and even (horrors! for this Lit Major!) finance and statistical analysis.

Sure, we faced gender bias, but it would have been no advice at all to tell us, as the academics instruct, to "signal concern for the broader [community]: ‘It’s not just good for me; it’s good for you.’"

The first critical step, ladies, is to learn your trade.

That means mastering the art of negotiation because every day you devote yourself to a business or professional enterprise, you are negotiating whether you know it or not.

What do you negotiate?

You negotiate alliances that will support your request for access to clients or better human resources. You negotiate sponsorship from people with the ability to push your candidacy for the C-suite or partner's office.

You negotiate bonuses, origination credit, seats on career-enhancing committees, and, when you need it, time off to have a child before coming back to the office without penalty for your unsung and unrewarded service to the procreation and nurturance of the human race.

We've got free resources and paid courses. We've got free webinars and podcasts littered around the internet. We have checklists and study guides, book recommendations and opportunities to practice this necessary skill.

Please, please, please do not be discouraged from negotiating on your own behalf because you keep reading warnings from the same people repeating the same pessimistic cautionary tales about women who take the rare moment out of their other-serving duties to self-serve. 

Follow us here. We tell you how to do it and get the outcomes you want. It's not rocket science. It's what women do best - having conversations that lead to agreement.

Fail early and fail often; then negotiate your dreams.

Pregnant and Jobless? Fuggitaboutit!

Looking forward to her first child should have made Dutch supermodel Lara Stone happy. But, like too many women, she lost a job because of it.

According to the Fertility and Infertility Research News Portal, 

Stone found out she was pregnant right before an important modeling gig and promptly passed the news on to the people who had booked her. When she arrived for the job, however, she was told they’d booked someone else. No one came right out and said it was because she was expecting, but she told Porter she got the distinct impression that had something to do with it.

No office baby shower for you! Just a pink slip or continued unemployment after your unemployment benefits have run out.

How does it feel? 

“I was really upset at the time,” the 30-year-old catwalker said. “I hadn’t yet had my three-month scan and I felt really vulnerable about everything. I no longer had a job. That was it — I had to just stop everything that I knew; the way my life was.”

Is This a Matter of Etiquette or a Legal Obligation?

Listen up!  This supermodel was obviously not "showing." She was not "dismissed" because she couldn't do the job.

And she was in her first trimester when there's a 12 to 25% chance of miscarriage.

Whether to voluntarily give a prospective employer the opportunity to illegally discriminate against you is not a question of etiquette for the individual woman to wrestle with the night before an interview.

It's a matter of law.

It's also a matter of fact that you're far more likely to lose the job if you disclose your pregnancy. I don't have figures for the United States, but a survey of HR professionals in the United Kingdom revealed that 95% of all hiring managers would refuse to hire a pregnant woman


Get ready for this. The same survey revealed that 52% of those hiring managers "assessed the likelihood of a candidate's getting pregnant, taking into account her age and whether she had recently married."

40% of All American Children Are Born to Single Mothers

Take these problems for a ride around the block.

Forty percent of all children in the United States are born to single mothers. Who does the society think is going to pay rent, food, electricity, gas, car fare, child care, clothing, diapers, doctor bills, bus fare? 

A working mother or taxpayers.

Working mothers are demonized despite the fact that 76% of all mothers are now in the work force. And there's a 16% wage gap between women with children and women without children. And it's not because the women are "too distracted" by their child care responsibilites to "lean in" to their jobs, occupations, careers and professions.

No one assumes men are too distracted to get their work done even though men think about sex, eating and sleeping twice as much as women do:

the median number of sexual thoughts for men was 18.6 and for women it was 9.9. In contrast, the average for men was 34.2 and for women it was 18.6. Statistical tests indicated that the number of thoughts about sex was not statistically larger than the number of thoughts about food and sleep. Men had more thoughts about all three of those areas than did women. The typical men in this sample were thinking about sex once or twice an hour, and statistically no more and no less than they were thinking about eating or sleeping.

See How Often Do Men and Women Think About Sex?

Women's "Choices" Step One: Sex 

A woman's first reproductive "choice" is sex with or without birth control. 

The anti-birth control squad tends to view pregnancy as a punishment for a woman who has sex with a man without reproductive intent. Because the statistics on unconsented sex create a firestorm, I'm going to skip the data and go straight to women's experiences.

Raise your hands, ladies, if a man at any time has physically forced you to have sex with him without a condom. Raise your hands if he physically forced you to have sex when you were using a diaphgram but didn't have it on you.

Raise your  hands if a condom ever broke or was ever dislodged during sex. Then raise your hands if you were bullied into have unprotected sex, particularly if the bullying took the form of a threat of physical violence or an economic threat.

It only takes one of these events for a woman to become pregnant. And she's liable to become pregnant as a result of one of these events during her approximate 30 year fertility cycle.

So, women's "choices" about their sexual and reproductive lives are pretty damn mythical even when we're just talking about the fist step - sex. 

Women's Choices Step Two: The Termination of a Pregnancy

The far right wing has made abortion so shameful that women are afraid to talk about it even though one-third of all women will have at least one abortion during their reproductive years.

Unsurprisingly, that statistic includes me. 

My thighs were sticking to the paper lining of the examination table in the fall of my third year of law school waiting for the results of a pregnancy test.

There was a calendar on the wall and I was counting the months. If I were pregnant, I'd likely give birth at the end of April, one month before my last year of law school and two months before the Bar exam.

My husband and I had discussed having a family on many occasions. His extremely strong opinion was that the mother had to spend at least the first five years with her children to "bond" with them. He was a social worker and he "knew" these things. I was a law student and what I knew were my rights. I wasn't, however, so sure about my heart.

I  thought about my choice for just about ten minutes. I was not going to throw away two years of law school, spend year three pregnant and likely miss the July Bar Exam, not to mention be unable to fill the job I had lined up for my first year of practice. Back in the day, all the women who came before me told me not to get pregnant before I made partner because the men would conclude I wasn't really "into" it.

A dozen years later I was pregnant for the second time. Thirty-eight and single. My life circumstances made my potential single motherhood unthinkable. Because this was likely my last chance to procreate, I gave the termination of that pregnancy at least a week of careful consideration. Then I terminated.

People want to take this right to one's own life away from women. Lots of people. An entire political party in fact. I will fight the fight until I'm gibbering nonsense in a nursing home. Don't look for us to lower our voices or keep our secrets for much longer.

Women's Choices Step Three: "Having" It "All"

Are you still with me? 

As soon as other people's desire to control women's bodies is taken off the table, the forces of darkness are all about women's "choices" again.

Wage-gap-deniers say that women "choose" to work in low-paid "women's jobs" without understanding that the reason "women's jobs" are low paid is because the occupation is dominated by women.

History: "women's jobs" weren't low paid when they were held by men. Think: male clerical workers before this was considered "fit" work for women; think: public relations before the field became dominated by women; think: the low value but relatively high wages for physcial labor in the 21st century when the socio-economic need for brawn is approaching zero and what women do best - learn - is what society needs.

Women's jobs pay less because they're held by women.

But what about those highly paid professions and occupations that women supposedly "choose" to leave because (pick one): they want to  have a family (unlike men?) or they "don't want to work that hard."

When a prominent man says he left his prominent job to spend more time with his family, everyone sees it for the ruse it likely is. When Anne-Marie Slaughter says it, it makes front page news in support of the proposition that women can't "have it all."

What women often can't do is do it all. 

Last time I looked, motherhood was pure sacrifice, not a free pass from life's messy and too often brutal grind. Last time I looked, women were continuing to tend to the domestic while at the same time busting their butts to earn a living for themselves and their families.

In whose world is this about "having" something or "wanting" something that the other half of the human race already has? In whose world is the working mother a greedy b-word-itch who just wants to take, take, take?

Now add to this the wide-spread discrimination against pregnant women and those who might get pregnant and you have the perfect storm of the wage gap. 

Stop Pretending Women Have These Choices

Please also note that these faux-nostalgic images of a longed-for 1950s past are always images of white women. The society did not expect women of color not to work. If pictured not working, African American women were depicted as "welfare queens." White women were just queens.

Please also note that these faux-nostalgic images of a longed-for 1950s past are always images of white women. The society did not expect women of color not to work. If pictured not working, African American women were depicted as "welfare queens." White women were just queens.

These are not choices. These circumstances are a combination of biology and the historic and long out-dated structure of the workplace and now artificial division between labor and domesticity. 

If you'd like to read about how many decades of "having it all" women have been subjected to (since the 1950s when women were urged back home after ably serving their country in the WWII-era workforce) read Opt-Out or Pushed Out: How the Press Covers Work-Family Conflict, The Untold Story of Why Women Leave the Workforce.

Why We Work At the Top

We work with high potential and high performing women professionals, executives, managers and entrepreneurs.

Sometimes we worry that we're just moving first class deck chairs on the economic Titanic. You know, cutting well-heeled white women into the rich white guy pie. Although we're planning to launch a minimum wage project that serves the 60+% women who are working minimum wage jobs, our concentration is indisputably moving accomplished women upward and closing their wage and leadership gaps.   

Yesterday, the New York Times published a lengthy piece on executive women at the top of the game, Riches Come to Women as CEOs But Few Get There.  I'm not going to give you the sorry statistics or wage gaps up there in the stratosphere, but I am going to give you the reported beneficial effect for all women when the few of us within rock throwing distance of the C-suite finally cross the threshold.

Another indication that gender plays a role in executive pay is that female executives earn up to 20 percent more in companies where a woman is the chief executive or heads the board than at similar companies led by men, according to a paper by Linda A. Bell, an economics professor who is now provost and dean of the faculty at Barnard College. Companies led by women also have more women as senior executives.

“The help of women by women is an important factor in the career outcomes of women,” Ms. Bell wrote.

Let emphasize that.

The Help of Women By Women is an Important Factor in the Career Outcomes of Women

If you'd like to read recent coverage about individual women's "choice" to reveal their pregnancy to prospective employers, read Should You Disclose Your Pregnancy in a Job Interview over at Fast Company. 


Getting A Raise Or Better Offer: The Script

We teach negotiation strategies and tactics. We say "anchor high" (make the first offer and make it aspirational); plan your concessions in advance, giving yourself at least three concessions before hitting your bottom line; and, stress how difficult it is to give up a deal point.

We tell our clients to strongly suggest that your bargaining partner reciprocate the difficult concessions you're making; to open with the benefit you provide before asking for anything for yourself; to frame your strengths and your offer or counter in a way that meets their needs, desires, concerns, preferences, and priorities; and, to talk about your market value or value in the hands of your employer rather than about what you "deserve."

Still, at the end of all this good advice, both men and women ask but what do I say? How do I begin? What if they say "no"? What do I do then? What if they get angry? What if I'm just at a loss for words? What if they withdraw the offer? Can I say "ok, I'll take your first offer" then? I'm nervous. I've never negotiated anything before. I'm afraid I'll just blank out or they'll intimidate me. I get sweaty palms and butterflies in the stomach. What if, what if what if . . .

We All Feel This Way

Please understand that all these questions go on inside all of our heads no matter who we are, how skilled we are, how much experience we have, and how bold we tend to be in "real life."

This is just the risk-averse, water-saving, food-hoarding, blessings-counting part of ourselves. It's saved our ass before and it's good to listen to its advice because it's nobody's fool. It is our fight-flight mechanism. It is intuitive. It's the reason our ancestors' genetic material has made it all the way from the time we lived in caves and hunted saber tooth tigers until that ancient DNA and our frisky parents created us.

As important as our instincts are, they are no match for our higher executive functions. The thinking and yes, scheming, parts of our brain that read and analyze, ask questions, plan for the future, imagine a better, stronger, wealthier family, teach our children how to read and write and dance, and negotiate our relationship with every other creature on the planet we encounter on a daily basis.

Still, You Need a Script

There isn't a single client for whom we haven't provided a script. A script to ask for three more months on the job before the lay-off is effective. A script to ask for a million dollar annual salary in response to a $300,000 offer (this one landed at $800,000). A script to ask the questions necessary to understand why a Goliath player is so eager to buy David's small gym. A script to resolve a conflict between business partners.

A script to open the salary conversation.

We're always happy to find other negotiators writing scripts for their clients. Here, for example, is the beginning of a terrific salary negotiation script by Rebecca Thorman, The Exact Words to Use When Negotiating Salary.

"I'm really excited to work here, and I know that I will bring a lot of value. I appreciate the offer at $58,000, but was really expecting to be in the $65,000 range based on my experience, drive, and performance. Can we look at a salary of $65,000 for this position?"

Employers may balk to start. It's in their interest not to pay you more of course, and get you to work at the lowest possible salary. So, expect initial rejections, like:

"So glad to hear you're looking forward to working with us. We're really looking forward to having you. The salary we offered is what we have budgeted for the position and we feel it's a fair compensation."

This may sound like it's the end of the conversation, but it's not—don't back down! The key here is to continue to show your enthusiasm and stay confident in your abilities. Try:

Read on here.

See, that wasn't so hard after all. Go get 'em. Corporate America is sitting on piles of cash and you've been working without a raise or for 2-3% raises throughout the jobless recovery. Don't tell you employer you deserve it but know that you deserve it.


How to Push Back Against "Pushy"


Great article over at Fast Company (2014's magazine of the year) about the strict gender roles too many women are expected to conform to.

As diversity expert and speaker extraordinaire Verna Myers once told me, "if you expect a woman to act as a stereotypic woman, you waste her potential or are disappointed by her performance despite the results she produces."

I don't know any woman who hasn't been tarred and feathered by her fellow workers (male and female) for being too aggressive, bitchy, dykey (yes, homophobia lives on) pushy, or bossy and hence "not leadership material." 

So here's some advice from people other than the principals of She Negotiates with a bit of advice from us as well over at Fast Company.

There’s no shortage of career advice for women telling them to be more confident, “lean in” to their careers, and thrive. Yet, as antiquated as it seems, there’s also no shortage of pushback when confident, assertive women are tough managers in the workplace and elsewhere.

“As a woman, in many ways, people are expecting you to be a pleaser and when you’re not, and when you’re unapologetic and you don’t couch your ideas, but you deliver them very confidently, you throw people,” says leadership consultant Selena Rezvani, author of Pushback: How Smart Women Ask--and Stand Up for What They Want.

Sure, you could ignore the perception and remain your hard-charging self. But even as you put forth your own brand of chutzpah, experts say there are some strategies you can use to win over even the most gender-entrenched skeptics. Counter--or avoid altogether--your critics with these strategies.

Read on at Fast Company.

There's also a conversation on this topic going on over at Citibank Connect Professional Women's Network here. What's your strategy?