Do you avoid negotiation? I did for many years. Until recently, I viewed negotiation as a conflict conversation.
When one of my mentors encouraged me to view the negotiation process as a way to creatively solve a problem, I gained a new level of confidence.
Here are five things that you can do to tap into your negotiation power:
■ View negotiation as a problem-solving conversation instead of a meeting with an opponent.
When you are preparing for your meeting, instead of imagining that you are going to have to give up something, envision the conversation as a process to find the best solution for everyone involved.
■ Be prepared. Before negotiations begin, prepare yourself by knowing exactly what you need to come away with and how much you are willing to concede. You’ll feel confident and will be less likely to get caught off-guard.
■ Understand the view of all parties. Women have the inside edge on empathy, which is a great negotiation skill.
Understanding what they want and why will help you to come to a solution, even if you cannot grant everyone’s wishes. When you show interest and compassion for everyone at the table, you’ll be viewed as a problem-solver instead of the enemy.
■ Recognize fear. Most resistance and conflict is rooted in fear. People genuinely do not like to make changes.
Be aware that some of the objections you’re hearing may be alleviated with reassurance. If you are crystal clear on what you want to achieve, you’ll be able to reassure all parties instead of reacting to complaints or outbursts.
■ Leave emotions out of negotiations. Remember, this is about problem solving and it’s not personal.
Center yourself before the conversation. Keep your voice steady. If the emotions of any party run high, take a break.
Standing up for yourself and your company does not have to be viewed as an act of aggression, and you may be missing out on opportunities, benefits and salary.
Don’t be afraid to practice negotiation so you can develop your skills. Look around you for opportunities to improve situations and ask for what is needed, on behalf of your company, your community or your favorite cause.
The more you practice negotiating, the easier it will become.
Beth Caldwell is the founder of Pittsburgh Professional Women. Beth is the author of the book “Smart Leadership: 12 Simple Strategies to Help You Shift from Ineffective Boss to Brilliant Leader,” and the lead instructor of the Leadership Academy for Women.