Negotiating Against the Grain of Gender
Yesterday, we talked about the different negotiation styles of men and women. Today, we're going to explore how men can benefit from learning women-speak and women can benefit from learning man-talk.
I'm going to emphasize this fact as often as possible. NEGOTIATION IS A SKILL THAT CAN BE LEARNED. The first step on the way to being a great negotiator is to be conscious. Be aware of what your own strengths and weaknesses, preferences and goals are.
- Keep a journal of your negotiations. You'd be amazed by how much you learn about the negotiation dynamic between you and your bargaining partner, as well as about your own strengths and weaknesses when you are willing to sit down and "tell the story" of the mediation to yourself.
- Learn from those with whom you are negotiating. Is there anything in their style or technique or process (preparation, investigation, bargaining moves, style, strategy, tactics, or demonstrated problem solving techniques) that you could incorporate into your own negotiation tool chest.
- Practice, practice, practice. Negotiate retail. This requires courage, gets you used to the idea that you can get what you want at a price you want, inures you to the inevitable disappointments that prevent most people from even asking for a better deal than the one offered; and, gives you the opportunity to
- Question your bargaining partner about the interests (needs, desires, fears, preferences and priorities) that they must satisfy as a sales person in a retail environment, as well as to
- Learn about the contraints under which your bargaining partner is operating.
- Feel free to move up the ladder of authority while negotiating if you find that your negotiating partner does not have the authority, say, to give you ten percent off the price on the sticker.
- Exercise your ability to help your negotiation partner begin to care about satisfying your interests so long as his can also be satisfied (to, perhaps, a lesser degree than he might wish but is nevertheless willing to work for).
Here are some of the strengths and weaknesses of "male" and "female" negotiation styles which we can all incorporate, to some degree, into our own gender-transcending negotiation style.
Women's strengths and weaknesses -- remembering that nearly every "weakness" can be deployed strategically as a "strength" (from Dianna Booher).
- Women ask questions meant as indirect objections,
- Women ask questions meant only to solicit information to which men react defensively.
- Women's language tends to be indirect, indiscreet, tactful, and even manipulative.
- Women tend to give fewer directives and use more courtesy words with those directives. Example: "The approach is not precisely foreign to our designers"; meaning "They are familiar with it."; Or "Mary may not be available to handle the project" meaning "Mary doesn't want to handle the project."
- Small talk: women talk to build rapport with others, and to explore their own feelings and opinions. Consequently, they consider many subjects worthy of conversation. They often talk about personal topics such as relationships, people, and experiences.
- To women, an important component of conversation is simply "connecting" emotionally with another person.
Men's strengths and weaknesses (with the same caution that all weaknesses can be strategically deployed as strenths)
- Men's language tends to be more direct, powerful, blunt, and at times offensive.
- Men generally give more directives, with fewer courtesy words. Example: "Tom blew the deal with that client because of his stubborn refusal to negotiate on the delivery." Or "That's a half-baked idea if I ever heard one. You're dead wrong."
- Men tend to regard conversation as a means of exchanging information or solving problems.
- Men discuss events, facts, happenings in the news, sports, or generally those topics not directly related to themselves.
- Men do not always recognize indirect messages or pick up on nuances in words or body language. In short, they don't always accurately "read between the lines"; to understand a woman's meaning or question
This is necessarily a partial list; for a fuller list of men's and women's negotiating strengths and weaknesses, read yesterday's post (for a second time if you already have) with the view of turning every perceived weakness into a strength.
My own analysis of the "weakness can be strength" issue tomorrow.