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Change the Status Quo by Negotiating for What You Want

Posted on Mar 30 2011 under Blog Posts

How many of you consider negotiation to be a critical skill set as a business owner or solo-preneur? The ability to negotiate effectively and manage the potential conflict that can arise from a negotiation is critical to the success of any business. And yet, many of us will avoid or simply not recognize the opportunities to negotiate. This is especially true for women because of the anxiety we experience when we feel that by asking for what we want we will somehow negatively impact the relationship of the person we are asking.

Often situations will go unaddressed or remain status quo unless we recognize the need, ask for what we want, and be willing to negotiate with the other side. Simply stated negotiation is a collaborative discussion that is needed with another person to change the status quo. Do you recognize any of these potential conversations that need further negotiation?

  • Needing a contractor to follow through with a commitment or provide quality work
  • Asking for more money or time from a client whose project grew by leaps and bounds
  • Requesting fixes in a timely manner from an office landlord
  • Giving feedback to a business partner and requesting s/he to change their behavior
  • Asking employees to put in extra long hours to meet a project deadline during the holidays
  • Establishing fees based on our market value and asking for it
  • Trying to meet a client’s high expectations and failing

You don’t have to accept the status quo; but before you jump into a conversation you need to be prepared. The first step is to assess the situation. Here 3 questions to start you off:

1) How many parties or sides are involved in this conversation?

a.    A party to the negotiation is someone who has a stake or key decision in the outcome.

b.    The more sides involved, the more complex the discussions. It is important to make sure to have the right parties…those who make the decisions and those who are impacted by the decisions.

2) How many issues need to be addressed?

a.    A single issue might be trading an employee’s day off. Simple.

b.    Multiple issues might be involved when working with a web designer. The project is underway and a price agreed upon but now there have been numerous delays, additional design elements to consider and the launch date has long passed. Your website has been held captive and you need something to happen NOW!

c.    Multiple issues could mean numerous interests on both sides are not being met. This gives leverage to both sides to creatively problem-solve. The key here is to identify all your potential issues and anticipate theirs.

3) What is the kind of relationship you have with the parties involved?

a. Are you negotiating with a car salesman, someone you will not see again or with a close colleague or friend who you expect to have a continuing relationship?

b. The nature of your relationship can have a significant impact on your negotiations. On a relationship continuum, the closer you are to the other party increases the likelihood that you have more information about the other party, that there is a level of trust between both parties, that there are more common interests, and that there is potential for collaboration. It also means that the success or failure of the negotiated outcome can have the biggest influence on the future of your relationship. The slightest hint that by asking for what we want will create conflict or negatively impact the relationship will have most women running the other way.

c. The key here is to establish a set of norms, guidelines or ground rules before your negotiation. For example,

“Let’s agree not to interrupt each other even when we disagree with what each other are saying. And, that we commit to listen to each other with respect no matter how hard the conversation gets.”

Once you decide to take the plunge, change the status quo and ask for what you want, then assess, prepare, and negotiate. What other challenges do you face when negotiating for yourself? I would love to hear back from you.

Pattie Porter is a conflict and negotiation coach, mediator, team facilitator and corporate trainer. She is the founder and President of Conflict Connections, Inc. and is passionate about helping people and businesses move through conflict constructively. She leads the Women and Negotiation workshop for women business owners and leaders.

Originally posted to NAWBO San Antonio on March 29, 2011


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