Men and women are different. That’s a simple fact that we can’t deny. It would make sense then that men and women negotiate differently. Understanding these differences when doing your preparation work is vital for your success.
I had a great conversation with the wonderful Sylvie di Giusto, of Executive Image Consulting about this topic. Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i31n2wK9cuQ.
Before I elaborate any further, I’d like to clear up a few things. First, and most obvious, it’s misguided to ascribe specific traits to an entire gender and take it as an absolute, but my ideas are informed by over thirty years of negotiating with men and women. Second, I also acknowledge that that for some, gender is non-binary. I speak in these binary terms because the far majority of my experience is with clients who identify as male or female.
At the negotiating table, men who are not skilled negotiators often make the mistake of being the blustery over-confident-types, quick to anger and full of ego. These traits can be temporarily effective on smaller matters with unsophisticated negotiators on the other side, but they also make becoming an authentic negotiator a challenge, fail to build relationship and significantly increase the chance of a deal not working out over time.
Women on the other hand, while still susceptible to bluster and over-confidence, are much more frequently measured and less governed by ego. Women who struggle with negotiating very often have issues with owning their value. Due to ingrained societal paradigms and many related factors, women often severely undervalue themselves, under-sell themselves and are less likely to advocate for themselves much more frequently than men do. Conversely, men are often quick to anger if they feel their value is being challenged or slighted. While the reaction seems opposite to women’s, the male response is rooted in the same issue—the inability to own their value. If they are overvaluing themselves or their product/service, an extreme defense response is to be expected, because they know they can’t own their own valuation. It is important for both men and women to be realistic and honest about their value
Let’s consider an example of undervaluing ones self. If the market value of your work is $300/hour and you perceive that your value is only $150/hour, there is almost no chance that you can successfully negotiate that $300/hour.
Just because we feel like we’re being honest with ourselves doesn’t make something true. If your work on the market is going for $300/hour, that is your value, and that is the truth. Own it.
That’s easier said than done, right? Making a 100 percent jump like that ($150.00 to $300.00) if we haven’t done the prep work to get comfortable with that valuation can take you out of your comfort zone, make your fee quote seem flimsy or disingenuous and cause it be much less likely you will close the business. If you can’t get yourself all the way up to your market value, establish a rate slightly higher than your baseline, one that you still feel you can own, and negotiate for that. It might not mean you are fully owning your value, but it’s a start and it’s changing your mind-set, which is a huge step. The next time you negotiate, you’ll be coming from an even stronger value proposition, and eventually you will own your value. You will close business at exponentially higher rates if you only quote/negotiate for what you can own at that time and then the next step is to do the work to be able to own higher rates over time.
I’ll explore some work you can do to get there in part two.
Regardless of gender, the Authentic Negotiator maintains a quiet confidence and owns their value. Their worth isn’t in question and the goals are clear. Still, it takes work, regardless of your starting point. Authentic Negotiators aren’t born that way. What work do you have left to do? My Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz will show you.