Excerpt: Successful Negotiating for Women

Women who are headed back to the work force after a break need to sharpen their negotiating skills before they go for their first big interview. Read an excerpt from A Woman's Guide to Successful Negotiating: How to Convince, Collaborate, & Create Your Way to Agreement by Lee Miller and his daughter, Jessica Miller.

Lee Miller, co-author of A Woman's Guide to Successful Negotiating: How to Convince, Collaborate, & Create Your Way to Agreement, gave a mock interview on Good Morning Amerca to three woman looking to re-enter the workplace.

The following is an adaptation of an excerpt from the book he wrote with his daughter, Jessica Miller.

Women who have succeeded in all walks of life share what they have learned with a father-daughter team to produce a woman's guide to successful negotiating.

Davia Temins, President of Temins & Co. and former head of Corporate Marketing for General Electric Capital Service, remembers the exact moment she realized "almost everything is negotiable if you see it that way." When she got out of business school, she accepted her first job as Assistant Director of Development at the Columbia Business School without really negotiating. She saw the offer as a choice, not a negotiation: you either took the job or you didn't. It never crossed her mind that she could negotiate the offer.

While working at Columbia, however, she saw something that changed her view of the world. She had always assumed that when you applied to business school you either got accepted or you didn't. If you didn't you went to another business school or did something else. A few students, however, when they were rejected sought out the Dean of Admissions and asked her what they could do to change her mind. To Davia's amazement, the Director of Admissions did not send them away. She told them if they took four semesters of Advanced Calculus and Statistics and got an A in each, she would admit them. A handful of students actually did and were admitted. At that point Davia realized that "way more things were negotiable than she had previously thought." So she decided to learn how to negotiate.

All day, every day we negotiate: with our friends, with our spouses, with our children, with our boss, with our customers and with our co-workers. Whether you are negotiating a new job, a million-dollar deal or where to go to dinner with your husband, A Woman's Guide to Successful Negotiating (McGraw Hill, 2002, Paperback $14.95) by Lee Miller and Jessica Miller, offers the tools and techniques to empower and build on women's innate skills in professional or personal situations.

Professional negotiator Lee Miller and his daughter, Jessica, have developed proven strategies, tactics, and techniques that tap into women's innate abilities to convince, collaborate and create. They feature innovative strategies for negotiating with aggressive men, competitive women and difficult children. Whether deciding where to go on vacation with your spouse, setting a curfew for your teenager, asking for a raise, buying a car, negotiating a divorce or selling your home, the Millers teach you how.

In researching A Woman's Guide to Successful Negotiating this father-daughter team interviewed over fifty of the most successful women in the country — women such Cathleen Black, President of Hearst Magazines; Lisa Caputo, former White House Press Secretary to Hillary Clinton and now President of Citigroup's Women & Co.; Emmy Award winning actress Christine Baranski; Susanna Hoffs, lead singer for The Bangles; Katie Ford, CEO Ford Modeling Agency; Elaine Conway, Director, New York State Division for Women and Katie Blackburn, Executive Vice President for the NFL Cincinnati Bengals. Each had made mistakes over the years and had learned from them. Based on that research we identified ten common mistakes women make as well as the three keys to successful negotiating for women. Of these, the three biggest mistakes are 1) not seeing situations as opportunities to negotiate, 2) not being willing to say no and 3) not negotiating for themselves like they would for someone else.

Ask: Almost Everything Is Negotiable If You See It That Way: Like Davia, many women fail to recognize that opportunities to negotiate exist in almost every interaction you have. One of the strengths women bring to negotiating is their ability to develop relationships. It is always harder to say no to someone with whom you have a relationship. By the same token, sometimes women do not ask for something they want, out of fear of damaging the relationship. This fear often holds women back when they are negotiating. It almost never hurts to ask. Remember, you cannot get something if you do not ask for it.

Don't Be Afraid to Say No: Because women generally are more concerned about relationships, they tend to be more hesitant to say no. They want to keep everyone happy. But being able to say no is sometimes critical when you are negotiating. Sometimes it is necessary to say no before you can get what you want. You do not 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 they can't, or won't improve the offer, you need to be willing to walk away. Hopefully, you have made sure you have other options. Knowing your bottom line though and being willing to say no to something that does not meet your needs, will often result in the person you are dealing with finding a way to satisfy you, at least if you are flexible and willing to work with them.

Negotiate for Yourself As If You Were Negotiating for Someone Else: Both men and women find it difficult negotiating for themselves, but women often have an even more difficult time doing so. Often women are raised to believe that asking for things for themselves is selfish. Our advice to all of you, women and men, who have difficulty negotiating for what you want is simple. "Get over it." If you do your homework, you will know what is fair and reasonable to ask for. Don't settle for less. Think about what you would do if you were negotiating for someone else and do it. If you don't make sure that you get everything you deserve when you negotiate for yourself, no one else will.

No one is born a good negotiator. Like driving it is a skill that has to be learned. These common negotiating mistakes are relatively easy to correct once you become aware that you are making them. Doing so will help you to get what you want in business and in your personal life.

Adapted from A Woman's Guide to Successful Negotiating (McGraw Hill, 2002) by Lee E. Miller, managing director of NegotiationPlus.com, and his daughter Jessica Miller, a commercial real estate broker with Grubb & Ellis in Tyson's, Va. Lee is also the author of Get More Money On Your Next Job (McGraw Hill, 1998).