NEGOTIATION

 

What is negotiation?

 

When can I negotiate?

 

How do I approach a negotiation?

 

I know what I want and am ready to negotiate. Now what do I do?

 

Is there a way to minimize conflict while negotiating?

 

When should I competitively negotiate?

 

What are the stages of the negotiation process?

 

Will I have to give up anything as a result of negotiating?

 

What are potential pitfalls?

 

What are some benefits of negotiation?

 

I’ve already tried to negotiate unsuccessfully, what should I do now?

 

How can I be my own best advocate?

 

 

What is negotiation?

 

Negotiation is a dialogue between two parties attempting to make an exchange. It is the most frequently used method of approaching a dispute. In the case of wage disputes, it is the conversation between you and your employer that determines whether and how much of a raise you deserve.

 

When can I negotiate?

 

You may negotiate at any time; however, timing is important. The time to negotiate for your starting salary is after you have received a job offer and before you accept it. The best time to negotiate for a raise is the time that works best for you, which may be during the normal cycle of determining raises or at a time which works to your advantage. You decide if and when to negotiate.

 

How do I approach a negotiation?

 

A successful negotiation requires preparation. Negotiating requires a calculated and planned approach. It is important to present yourself in a manner that is appropriate for the circumstances under which you are operating. Use your common sense, dress appropriately, etc. Consider the power of the first impression. You always want to convey to the person with whom you are dealing that you are serious about the situation and about finding a resolution.

You next need to identify your interests and needs, as well as those of your employers. It is important to differentiate between what you want out of the negotiation and what you absolutely need. Two questions you should ask yourself are:

  1. If I could have everything I want in this negotiation, what would I desire in the final agreement?
  2. If everything goes against me in the negotiation, what would be the very least I would accept to conclude an agreement?
It is important that you collect all pertinent facts to your situation while determining your interests and needs. Arrange them into three categories: essential, important, and desirable. Negotiation should be based on facts not opinions or vague feelings of fairness.

 

 

I know what I want and am ready to negotiate. Now what do I do?

 

It is not necessary to have a trained negotiator or lawyer present, but it can be very helpful for many people. If you choose to negotiate by yourself, your first step is selecting a negotiation approach: competitive, cooperative, or a combination.

Once you have decided on a method, you should evaluate the situation, analyzing the various factors that might affect your preparation and presentation of the matter. Look at the interests and needs of all parties, including each party’s financial interests, the availability of information, the relationship between the parties, and how time deadlines will affect either side. One question to ask yourself is: do I have enough money to last without pay?

Lastly, develop theories supporting the negotiation and anticipate arguments that may be made by the other party. It is important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your own argument and anticipate those of the opposing party. This can lead to fewer surprises and makes it possible for you to counter the arguments you have anticipated. It is also helpful to know the personality of the person with whom you will be negotiating. If it is your boss and you are familiar with him or her, then include that into your planning. If you know he or she likes you as an employee, do not be afraid to use that to your advantage.

 

Is there a way to minimize conflict while negotiating?

 

Typically, we picture a competitive negotiation. That is, one party makes an extreme opening demand, which typically sets the mood for the entire process and creates a more hostile environment. Beginning with an extreme demand is done in the hope that the negotiator will wind up with more than she actually expected to receive. This negotiator believes that all gains come at the expense of the other party. As a result, there is a severe lack of trust between parties and generally the relationship tends to deteriorate over the course of the negotiation.

The cooperative negotiator’s goal is not to make gains at the other party’s expense, but rather to have both parties walk away from the negotiation satisfied. The cooperative negotiator opens by making modest and realistic demands. She realizes that concessions are not a result of a weak bargaining position, but rather a technique designed to capitalize on the other party’s desire to reach a fair and just agreement and to maintain an appropriate working relationship.

A combination of the two may be the most effective course of action. Research shows that women tend to be over-accommodating in the negotiation and place a large emphasis on the end relationship between the parties. While you may not be willing to quit your job, you should be assertive enough to demand what it is you deserve. By not being overly competitive, you create a feeling of cooperation in which to deal.

 

When should I competitively negotiate?

 

Competitive negotiation is best used if you are a strong-willed woman and are confident in your abilities to negotiate and perform. However, competitive negotiators may lose the opportunity to negotiate because they have demanded too much or been willing to concede too little. Studies of lawsuits indicate that this tactic increases the likelihood of going to trial because the employer is angered by such offensive bargaining behavior and sees no possible gain through non-adjudication alternatives. Competitive negotiation will be a particularly useful tool if you are willing to sacrifice your job or your relationship with your employer. Negative outcomes do not always result; it is simply a strategy that naturally results in a more abrasive communication between the parties.

 

What are the stages of the negotiation process?

 

The first step of negotiation is a preliminary stage, where the identity and the tone of the negotiation are established. In this stage, you want to establish formal and informal guidelines for each negotiation meeting. This can include the location and length of each session, who keeps the minutes, the number of people on the negotiating team, and the manner in which offers are made.

The next stage involves information exchange. Each party gets the opportunity to determine the knowledge and desires of the other. Basic issues, especially economic, can be determined during this time. Strategically, you should direct the conversation towards the issues that best benefit your side while avoiding discussion of topics that may hurt your ultimate goal. Much can be learned about the opposing negotiator by listening and observing his or her body language, movements, and attitude.

After the information exchange, one party will make an initial demand or offer. Some negotiators feel you should make the first offer because it allows you to define the bargaining range. Others find it risky if you are uncertain of the potential value being negotiated. Whichever you choose, keep in mind your upper limit and your bottom line.

Once the first offer is made, the bargaining process begins. This is where the parties articulate their own specific demands. A good strategy is to begin talking about what the other party must have and is willing to give up, instead of asking what the other party wants and why. Doing this allows the parties to begin an unofficial ranking of what is most important and to value each in their own minds. Toward the end of the bargaining phase, both parties begin to realize whether their negotiation is going to be a success or a failure. Not all negotiations are going to be successful. It is important to realize when a negotiation is not going to be successful and not feel as though you failed.

If the negotiation is a success, typically one party will draft a document stating the terms that the two parties have agreed upon. The non-drafting party should review the agreement carefully to ensure what is written in the contract is what was agreed upon. Whatever is in that contract is what the outcome of the negotiation ultimately will be.

 

Will I have to give up anything as a result of negotiating?

 

Negotiating an agreement always involves some form of compromise. Making concessions is always a part of negotiation and is necessary for reaching an effective agreement that will stick. Concessions should not be viewed as weakness but rather as a sign of good faith and a willingness to work constructively with the opposing party to achieve an outcome. As a result, the timing of a concession is very important and must be carefully formulated and announced. There are several different kinds of concessions you may have to discuss during negotiation. This is why planning is so important. A concession can be a well-reasoned, carefully justified relinquishment of a previous position or offer made. It can also be the arrival at a new bargaining point to which the negotiator is committed for reasons of principle, fairness, cost, precedent, logic, client direction, lack of authority, etc. While it is, in general, necessary to concede some parts of a negotiation, it is important to always keep in mind how much you are willing to concede.

 

What are potential pitfalls?

 

The worst potential pitfalls of negotiation are losing your job or destroying the relationship between you and your employer. However, if approached properly, negotiation can leave both parties satisfied. Therefore, if no agreement can be reached, it is important to determine what the effect is on both parties. Typically, the answer for your employer lies in comparing the loss of a valuable employee with a small increase in wage costs. However, you will need to compare the potential loss of income from the wage gap with the loss of your job. It is important that you realize the risks involved and keep them in mind as you weigh you decision of whether to negotiate.

 

What are some benefits of negotiation?

 

The possible benefits of negotiation are endless and within your control. You could help your employer realize that his salaries discriminate against women and, as a result, receive a higher salary for you and your female coworkers. The negotiation process could also yield better benefits for you and your family.

 

I’ve already tried to negotiate unsuccessfully, what should I do now?

 

If you have tried to negotiate with your employer and he or she has been unwilling to negotiate in return, then it is time to seek legal help. The presence of a lawyer can often make an employer realize the seriousness of your claim and may force him or her to negotiate. If the employer still will not comply, it may be time to move into mediation. {Link to “Mediation Q&A”}

 

What are some disadvantages of negotiating?

 

There are technically no rules surrounding the practice of negotiation. This means that when you enter into a negotiation process there are no concrete uniform standards or protections to ensure that the process will be fair, that it will be timely, etc. Therefore, it is especially important to know your own personal strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of the person with whom you are negotiating.)

 

How do I prove wage discrimination?

 

Outside the courtroom, there is no formal discovery process to help you determine whether you are being discriminated against. It may even be against company policy to ask other employees about their salaries/wages. Therefore, it is important that you begin the process by consulting your company guidelines or your company’s Human Resources department. If it is not against company policy, you may consider demanding wage information. Otherwise, there is no way for you to prove wage discrimination without taking the case to court, where the information is discoverable and could be easily obtained.

 

How can I be my own best advocate?

 

Identify your strengths and what makes you valuable to the company. This will remind you and your employer of why you deserve to be compensated fairly. A few strategies you can employ to become a more effective negotiator are to hold out for incentives, enlist strategic support, and work behind the scenes to structure the negotiation process so as to make it most conducive to your proposals.

The best way to combat any feeling that you are negotiation from weakness, for example, you need to keep the job and worry that negotiation may jeopardize your job, is to establish your value to the company upfront.

While negotiation can be an effective tactic, you must be always be aware of the potential risks of negotiation and the attitudes you may face. Information, preparation, and knowledge of preexisting barriers are critical to your ability to negotiate successfully.