Negotiating Wisely for a Positive Outcome
By Chelse Benham
“Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.” –
Learning to negotiate is an empowering ability. Decisive and expedient
exchanges between people can be elevated to an art form when you acquire
persuasive negotiating skills. Effective negotiating enables you to shape
situations to ensure that your needs are satisfied. Once you master the art of
negotiating, you soon recognize that the only real limits to what you can achieve
are those you place on yourself.
“Power to persuade comes from coolly, dispassionately and methodically looking
at both sides. However, people who come across as too cold don’t persuade.
The key ingredient to good communicating is being sincere. Believe in what you
are saying and others will listen. Control how you say it and you’ll be able to
influence others,” said Theresa Norman, lecturer in the Department of History
and Philosophy at The University of Texas-Pan American.
“Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In” by Roger Fisher,
William Ury and Bruce Patton advance a negotiating method that creates a win-
win situation. The authors identify three strategies of negotiating, however these
strategies are not all equal and some provoke unwise agreements in their wake.
According to the authors, there is “positional bargaining” that comes in two
flavors: soft or hard. These first two are very different from one another and often
lead to a “win-loose” situation where parties may feel unsatisfied upon the closing
of an agreement reached. This is especially true if one party approaches the
situation from a soft position whilst the other comes from it using hard positioning
techniques. The following items illustrate the differences between the two:
Participants are friends. Participants are adversaries.
The goal is agreement. The goal is victory.
Participants make concessions to cultivate Participants demand concessions as
the relationship. a condition of the relationship.
The philosophy is to be soft on the people. The philosophy is to be hard on the
Trust others. Distrust others.
Change your position easily. Dig into your position.
Make offers. Make threats.
Disclose your bottom line. Mislead as to your bottom line.
Accept one-sided losses to reach Demand one-sided gains as the
agreement. price of agreement.
Insist on agreement. Insist on your position.
Yield to pressure. Apply pressure.
Needless to say, soft and hard bargaining can be detrimental. Fisher, Ury and
Patton advise the use of “principled negotiating” as a productive means of
reaching a win-win solution in any negotiating situation.
The principled negotiating method was developed at the Harvard Negotiating
Project by Fisher and Ury. In essence, the method calls for negotiators to be
problem-solvers with a goal of reaching a wise agreement efficiently and
amicably. It has four basic points:
1. People: separate the people from the problem.
2. Interests: focus on interests, not positions.
3. Options: generate a variety of possibilities before deciding what to do.
4. Criteria: insist that the result be based on some objective standard.
Helpful explanations of these four foundations are found at
The first point recognizes that positions become identified with egos. The
negotiators need to work side-by-side and resolve issues together,
attacking the problem rather than each other.
The second point is meant to avoid focusing on stated positions. Looking
at the interests of the parties and their overall objectives, rather than at a
series of positions makes it easier to reach compromises.
The third point is aimed at avoiding decisions made under pressure or in
the presence of an adversarial negotiator. Such conditions tend to narrow
vision. Instead, negotiators from both sides should take time together to
think up a wide range of solutions that advance shared interests and/or
reconcile differing interests and then, later, jointly choose one.
The forth point has to do with situations in which the interests are directly
opposed to each other. In such situations, the parties should try to reach
results based on standards independent of each party. Some fair
standard and objective criteria such as market value, a national pay
scale, custom, law or expert opinion will serve this purpose.
Following the thought that not all negotiating styles are created equal, the same
can be said of the people negotiating. Specifically, women on average are less
adroit at negotiating than men. According to Juliet Nierenberg, president of the
Negotiation Institute in New York and co-author of “Women and the Art of
Negotiating,” in an interview on www.negotiation.com women are at a
disadvantage because they have less experience in the negotiating process.
Riley Bowles, author of “Negotiating Challenges for Women Leaders” at
PriceWaterhouseCoopers.com believes women walk into a negotiation with lower
expectations than men. This pervasive social psychological phenomenon is
called the “entitlement effect.” The entitlement effect is linked to perceived
“deservedness.” The effect postulates that women perceive that they deserve
less than men.
According to Bowles, women don’t want to be viewed as too aggressive. This is
seen as a negative quality. However, Bowles contends that a negative perception
is generated if you don't negotiate. If you don't negotiate for your salary, writes
Bowles, they walk away happy that they paid you less but wonder why they hired
“Four Negotiating Mistakes That Women Often Make” by Lee and Jessica Miller
found at CareerJournal.com identify problems women face when negotiating.
Adopting a negotiating style that doesn't reflect who you are. For
many women, they avoid negotiating or think they don't have an aptitude
for it. How you negotiate needs to reflect who you are. You must be
authentic or you'll lose all credibility. People see through you if you try to
be something you aren't. Don’t walk in tough, if in reality, you are gentle.
Being mild mannered and negotiating effectively are not mutually
Not seeing a situation as an opportunity to negotiate. Women typically
don't recognize that opportunities to negotiate exist in almost every
interaction. They look at situations in terms of decisions that have to be
made, rather than opportunities to negotiate. Often this is because women
fail to realize that they don't have to simply accept or reject what's being
offered. Rather they have the option of asking for something different.
If you assume everything is negotiable, you'll find that it's true. Successful
women recognize that almost everything is negotiable. You decide what's
Furthermore, one of the strengths women bring to negotiating is their
ability to develop relationships. Used properly, relationships can facilitate
effective negotiating. It's always harder for someone to say no if they know
and like you.
By the same token, women sometimes don't ask for things they want, out
of fear of damaging the relationship. This fear can hold women back and
keep them from getting what they would like. We call this the "empathy
trap." To avoid it, realize it never hurts to ask. While you may not get
everything you ask for, you'll be amazed at how often you get most of
what you want. Remember, you can't get something if you don't ask for it.
Not being willing to say no. Women often have difficulty saying no
particularly when they're dealing with someone they care about. Because
women place a high value on relationships, they're more hesitant about
saying no. They want to keep everyone happy.
Interestingly, “no” is the most powerful word in negotiating. Sometimes it's
necessary to say no before you can get to yes. Successful negotiators
have learned when and how to say no.
You don't have to say no loudly or aggressively. If, however, an offer is
less than you think it should be, you need to point that out politely but
firmly. If the other party can't or won't improve the offer, you need to be
willing to walk away. Knowing your bottom line and being willing to say no
to something that doesn't meet your needs often results in the other party
finding a way to satisfy your needs.
Not negotiating well when it's for you. Both men and women find it
difficult to negotiate for themselves, but women often have a harder time.
Many women were raised to believe that it's selfish to ask for things for
themselves. If you do your homework, you'll know what's fair and
reasonable to request. Don't settle for less.
“Research is the most important piece of advice I can tell someone about the
salary process. They can find out what to expect to be paid by a number of
sources like the Census Bureau,” Lourdes Servantes, placement specialist in the
Career Placement Services Office at UTPA, said. “Interested people can log onto
www.panam.edu and go to the personnel site and find classification and pay
scale for just about any job that they are interested in.”
Empower yourself by learning, understanding and becoming familiar with the
negotiating process. Remember to focus on the merits of an issue set forth by
objective standards. Remain calm, collected and alert. Use sincerity and play to
your strengths. Self-control and relaxed composure are not diametrically
opposed to one another. You don’t have to appear severe to be believed.
Remember, “It's easier to catch flies with honey than with vinegar.”