You might be looking at this title and think of course I am negotiating for a yes, why would I negotiate for a no? Well you might be surprised. Even though the world has changed and it is now commonplace that women will have careers. Women are still raised to be wives and mothers, which means they have to have qualities that are attractive to the male gender and qualities that are nurturing and put others first to prepare them for motherhood. Mothers are not expected to put their needs first, they are expected to sacrifice themselves for the needs of others. These are often qualities that are contrary to what it takes to be successful in the workplace. Qualities like assertiveness, ambition and competitiveness.
Because of our need to be liked we tend to shy away from displaying assertive behavior. Which to be fair, research shows that it can be perceived as bossyness if displayed by a women. To compensate for this we tend to overthink our ‘ask’, overcompensate when asking, or be passive hoping that other will know and do what is fair for us. We then feel disillusioned when our needs are not being met. One of the ways this plays out is by negotiating against ourselves. Negotiating against yourself is when you give the person you are negotiating with, all the reasons to say no to you. We often do it to show that we have considered their position but we often do it to our detriment. It may work when we negotiate with women because they might see where we are coming from but if done with assertive men or women who negotiate to win we are shooting ourselves in the foot.
I once did the same where I asked for a favor from a guy at work and promised him something I knew he wanted in return. Because I felt that the favor was too much to ask I said to him that I would give him that something in return anyway even if he did not do what I was asking for. Guess what? He said no but still wanted what I had promised to give him anyway. I couldn’t believe how selfish he could be. Until I realized that yep I just negotiated against myself!
Some tips to consider when negotiating are the following
- Use data to back up your ‘ask’ it is very difficult to dispute the facts.
- Ask for what you want and stop talking, don’t feel the need to fill the silence
- Don’t speak against yourself to soften the situation.
- Don’t be passive and hope the other party will do what is fair, state clearly what you want and why.
Author: Busisiwe Hlatswayo