When do you negotiate? Every once in a while, when there’s a problem at work? When you think you deserve an increase in salary? Your significant other foolishly disagrees with you?
While these are of course valid answers, if you stop and think about it, you are probably negotiating all day, every day. Whether that negotiation is with a co-worker, a loved one, yourself(!) or random strangers on the street. Your brain may not be identifying these conversations as proper negotiations, but at the heart of it, that’s what you’re doing when you need to leave the office early, roll out the yoga mat despite exhaustion, evade dish washing duties, or you just need space to breathe amidst the hordes on the 5 train at 7:30 in the morning…
This topic - when do you negotiate - opened up the Negotiation Self Defense class that I led for Women Talk Finance this week. Women Talk Finance is an organization that was founded to empower women when it comes to anything finance-related. For two hours on a snowy New York evening, we talked about how to develop a system to prepare yourself for negotiations, and different scenarios in which this system can be applied. We covered everything from demonstrating the benefits of pay transparency to your employer to protecting flexible work arrangements and fighting for your right to a bonus.
While many of us are negotiating all of the time, when there’s a dispute or you’ve been treated unfairly, it feels different. Perhaps it feels like there’s more at stake. It’s more complicated. And the people? They seem more difficult, too.
For many of us, the idea of advocating for ourselves is intimidating. This may be due to challenging experiences in the past. Or you are not sure how to ask for what you want… Or even what you should be asking for in the negotiation.
In my last blog post, I outlined 10 things you can do for a calmer, more productive approach to negotiation. And then I promised to apply this plan to a real dispute in order to provide some more context on why this first step in negotiation - the planning step - is crucial.
So let's get started... We'll work with the pay disparity concern that was raised during my class this week.
The pay differential that women experience has been studied across the U.S. (and certainly other countries as well). Generally, it is observed that women make roughly 20% less each year than their male comparators. Numbers are far worse for women of color, with Black women earning roughly 38% less and Latinas earning 46% less, for example.
One way to address this issue at an institutional level is by studying internal trends relating to pay disparity and then commit to being more public about the gap and how it will be addressed. Lean In has a lot of helpful information on this topic.
If your employer does not take it upon itself to do this, what can you, as an individual employee, do to encourage such an endeavor? Here are a few suggestions to get started in utilizing negotiation planning to strategize for this type of initiative.
1) Set goals. What information are you looking for the company to review? Are you focused on gender? Should age, race, ability and sexual orientation be considered as well? When the information is gathered, what do you propose doing with it?
2) Understand your interests. Why is this important to you? Or your coworkers? What is it about this initiative that makes it important to you?
3) Now revisit your list. Will they agree or disagree with the goals you have set, or with the interests you have listed? Why?
4) Then think about what they want. In a conversation over a pay disparity review, what do you think the company's goals will be? Will they be open to it? Open to doing it in a transparent way? What if they don’t have the data you want? Have they undertaken similar initiatives?
5) Are there any areas where your goals or interests overlap with what you think the company values? Where are your goals farthest apart?
6) Go back to your goals now. Rate them in order of importance to you. Rate them again in order of how objectionable they may be to the other side. Then do the same for their goals.
7) Consider the relationship you have now, and what you desire in the future for that relationship. Here, consider your interest in continuing to work for the company and also the individual you are meeting with. How long have you worked there - do you plan to stay? If they are reticent to consider your suggestions, what recourse do you have? Will you stay?
8) List reasons why it would also benefit them. What do competitors do? Is this an opportunity to stand out as a thought leader? Will participation in a pay transparency initiative offer opportunities to improve morale? Or speak to customers?
9) Memorialize your plan, including your goals and interests, possible solutions and strategies.
10) Remember that no matter the circumstances, there are two sides to every story. Commit to not take things personally, to listen and keep an open mind. Negotiation is about give and take. Not win or lose.
This is meant to be a quick run-through of how the Negotiation Plan can be used to help you clarify what you are working towards, understand your priorities, and that of your partner in the negotiation.