Why Women Do Not Ask & How To Negotiate Better

I had the privilege of hearing Melanie Billings-Yun, author of ‘Beyond DealMaking’ speak this week on the subject of why women don’t ask.  Melanie has a Ph.D. from Harvard University in diplomatic history, an MSc from the London School of Economics, and a B.S. with high honors from Portland State University. She is the author of Decision Against War(Columbia University Press, 1988), as well as numerous articles on negotiation, mediation and dispute resolution. She regularly speaks to professional associations and business conferences around the world about negotiation and relationship management. You can learn more about her here:

Beyond Deal Making

Melanie believes that women don’t ask for 5 common reasons:

1. Fear of conflict

2. Communication differences

3. Concern about impact on relationships

4. Fewer mentors, networks

5. Social aversion to ‘aggressive women’
In order to help her female clients overcome these obstacles so that we ask more often, thus engaging in profitable relationship building, she suggests:

1) Focusing on the interests of all parties

2) Seek solutions not victory

3) Decide issues on fairness

4) Use positive language instead of, ‘why not’ say, ‘how can we make this work?”

5) Consider negotiation as a pull and not a push (like sales)

6) Combine assertiveness with friendliness (smile when you ask for things)

7) Demand valid justifications

8) Have a reason for everything you ask for

9) Ask the negotiating party what they are looking for

10) Consider the three points of fairness: equity, 2 party dialogue and did you keep the spirit of the argument?

What do you think? Does this resonate with your experience in negotiating?


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