Updated: Apr 30, 2021
I recently read a few studies that suggested that women are less likely to initiate negotiations in competitive situations compared to men (1,2,3), which of course can lead to disparities between men and women. Whether it be out of fear of not being liked or because negotiation can sometimes be perceived as confrontational, avoiding negotiation can affect one’s ability to reach a goal. In today’s post, I will be sharing 5 powerful tips to help mummies out during negotiation. As working mothers, there will be a lot to juggle, and negotiating is something that can help out significantly.
1) Treat people how they like to be treated
I know we’re all familiar with the saying “treat people how you would want to be treated” and that probably works in a lot of casual settings, but when you are trying to get the best out of someone or influence a situation, the opposite actually works better. Just because you like to be wined and dined before being asked for something, doesn’t mean the person in front of you does, he or she may perceive it as draining or “fake,” ultimately losing their interest, or just because you like to keep things short and brief, doesn’t mean the person you are trying to negotiate with does, that person may perceive you as cold or unapproachable, and their guard goes up. You must remember that not everyone is like you, so it’s better to understand who you are dealing with and adapt your approach accordingly for a more effective communication process.
2) Approach conversations with solutions
In 2019, I took on a job knowing very well that the finishing time would not work for me, but I needed the money and luckily for me, my mother was on annual leave and could help me with the evening nursery run temporarily. From day one I made it my first mission to demonstrate my commitment to the role and get acquainted with as many friends as I possibly could. Luckily there was another mother there who revealed that she would prefer to start work later than me. After my first week of work, I approached my manager with the problem that I was facing; which was that I couldn’t stay as late I am scheduled to because of childcare, but I immediately followed up with the suggestion of swapping work schedules with the colleague who preferred to start work at a later time (I had already confirmed this suggestion with her). It didn’t take long for my manager to accept this new arrangement, as it was a win-win for everyone involved and didn’t require him to actually do any problem solving himself.
Approaching negations with logical and well-thought-out solutions can put you ahead, as you make the decision process much easier for all parties involved.
3) Try to understand people’s perspectives
Everyone has problems, and people will always be driven by these plus their personal values, even if they don’t display them openly at first. Finding out what a person’s real pain point is or what they innately value (and acknowledging it), can help you build trust, understanding, and drive the conversation to a more mutually beneficial stage. If someone can’t accept the offer you are providing, see if there is something else you can tag on to the deal to get them into an agreement. I’ve heard of a number of ladies who work as nursery nurses part-time at the nursery their child attends full time, as a barter for the childcare service. Which worked because the mum no longer had to worry about childcare, and the nursery didn’t have to worry about not being able to afford her services. I even know of a mum whose job was to sell advertising space for an established magazine company. In one of her negotiations, she accepted a reduced payment plus a free baby travel set from an up-and-coming brand in exchange for a full-page advert in a magazine. She was expecting her first child, and decided to forgo her commission in exchange for something she valued. This worked out well for everyone because the magazine received their expected payment, she didn’t have to fork out as much money for the travel set, and the brand was able to maintain their budget.
4) Do your homework
One of the best ways to sell yourself or your idea is to do as much preparation as possible. Take the scenario of asking for a pay rise. Start off by researching the usual salary someone with your duties in your residential area and in your industry typically earns. If you find that you may be missing a few criteria from your ideal salary, work as quickly as you can to meet those conditions. The aim of this exercise is to build a case for yourself that can effectively demonstrate a solid argument for the pay rise. At this point you will have then positioned yourself to let your employer know why it’s in their best interest to bet on you. Once you know the market value of the product (your services) that is being utilised, it’s much easier to ask for a true remuneration, because you understand what amount people are willing to pay for it. Equally speaking, it’s also important to remember that not everything that can be counted is all that matters, and this goes back to the previous paragraph on other’s people’s perspectives, if the company is not doing well, or if you don’t adapt well to your company’s culture, you will probably struggle to win your boss over, so again it’s best to consider these types of things as part of your preparation.
5) Other than money
When we hear the term negotiate, we often only think about it in monetary terms. But there can also be many other factors that can be included in the conversation as well. At work, for mothers, this can be start and finish times, perhaps the option to work from home a few days, guaranteed annual leave during the school-breaks. If a recruiter has decided that you are the right person for the role, they will strongly consider your requests. The same goes with other areas of your life, when buying a home you can put forward an offer along with stipulations i.e you can ask for the walls of a house to be restored to neutral colours, or for certain items to be included in the sale. Basically, before you enter into any agreement, if there’s anything bothering you, it’s well worth negotiating it into the deal (provided it’s a reasonable request of course).
All of these tips may be misinterpreted as being manipulative, but that’s not the intent, the intent is to help you discover creative ways of collaborating and creating an agreement that you are happy with, because the reality is the other person will also be looking for the same result for themselves.
In essence, negotiating is problem solving. Areas where it can make a difference include when making purchases, career progression, renewing a contract, and resolving conflicts. There will always be something you have that you can leverage, be it speed, access, happiness, consistency, competition etc. All you have to do is ask as many questions as possible to understand the full picture of the situation and see where you can provide the solution. You don’t have to be brassy or adapt the “not taking NO for an answer” approach to get your way. As long as you remember to keep the negotiation experience both pleasant but firm and unemotional, things shouldn’t go south for you. And finally, remember that no deal is better than a bad deal.