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).