Cindy Watson is the founder of Watson Labour Law and more recently, the creator of Women on Purpose and pioneer of the Art of Feminine Negotiation Program. She is keeping the momentum flowing with a scheduled book release this year where she will be launching The Art of Feminine Negotiation: How to Get What You Want From the Board Room to the Bedroom.
One of the things that prompted Watson to pursue this journey of Women on Purpose and the Art of Negotiation was her experience growing up in a rental apartment complex in a tough neighborhood. When she was young, Watson developed a strong passion for creativity and the arts. The only problem was since she came from a family of low financial status, there was a lot more pressure for Watson to capitalize on her strong academic performance and pursue a traditional career path that would guarantee a higher income.
Climbing the Ranks
Now she is based professionally in Toronto as a practicing lawyer, with her own firm close to the town she grew up in. Law is the first field she ever started a business in and Watson claims that “sometimes ‘not knowing’ is the greatest gift we can have.” Although she knew essentially nothing about running a company, her blissful ignorance allowed her to leave a job she was unhappy with to start her own firm. Looking back it seems like a preposterous idea, but that leap of faith ended up serving as a foundation for many great accomplishments to come.
Luckily, everything fell into place because Watson was able to own her value. A lot of people coming from the background she has are either really driven or feel like they’re not enough. Factors like, background, gender, class, race and other things can have a significant impact on what people can accomplish, but most people don’t realize that they can form a conscious decision to fight the circumstances. Women, and particularly women of color have so much more in terms of generations of conditioning, and they are set off with a distinct disadvantage even as early as kindergarten.
Step Into the Arena
When women step into their natural, feminine, intuitive negotiation styles, they can be more effective negotiators than professionals who use typical, masculine negotiation tactics. It can be a real advantage since most people don’t expect women to be good negotiators, especially when considering the expectation that negotiating is all about the bark and the bite. This connotation causes a lot of women to believe that they cannot be good negotiators because they lack the strength to be aggressive and assertive. But assertiveness is only one factor in negotiation among other key components like rapport building, empathy, flexibility, intuition, trustworthiness, and the list goes on.
It is not a question of capability, it is a question of mindset because most of the key successful negotiation attributes are traits that are traditionally considered to be feminine. There is no benefit to overcompensating so you can fit into a perceived “man’s world,” and luckily we are starting to see a generational shift in our society where this is changing. There are two types of negotiations: One will be the start of an ongoing relationship, and the other is a one-off situation that affects your reputation and karma because it is a small world. Real power is being able to use restraint when you don’t have to use it and that is the mark of a mature and experienced negotiator.
In this episode of the Fueling Deals podcast, Cindy Watson joins host Corey Kupfer to tell her story and talk about some of the negotiation wisdom she brings to female professionals through her conferences and book.