Women of Power: Negotiation Know-How

Within the first hours of his official presidency, President Barack Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The bill aims to reconcile the salary disparities that exist for women and minorities. Of course, this law will assist us; however, we have to assume some of the responsibility as well regarding our compensation. And although the economy may be in a downturn, that discussion can still take place at the negotiating table–you just have to go in equipped with the right tools and strategies as well as have already set yourself a part from the others as an invaluable team member.

The Women of Power Summit workshop, Negotiate Like You’re Holding Trumps (Even When You’re Not) on Friday was all about building what facilitator Sharon Hall calls “your negotiating posture.” As managing director for executive search firm Spencer Stuart‘s Atlanta office, Hall says successfully negotiating things like compensation and business deals is still possible in even an uncertain economy. In coming out satisfied, the trick is to go into the discussion with an open mind and adequately equipped to handle yourself throughout the process.

Of course, she stresses the most important thing you can do is know why you are where you are; and determine how close you are to meeting those things that remain outstanding.

Regardless if you have no tactic or could brush up on your skills, Hall offers six need-to-know tips for strengthening your negotiating posture.

1. Know your market worth. Don’t assume but know what you need and why. Research by referring to compensation surveys; talking to others in the field; or taking calls from headhunters.

2. Know what you want. Ideally, you want to be specific and qualitative with your self-assessment. But know that an increase of 9%-12% is appropriate.

3. Know what’s flexible. Does it have to be what you ask for or are you willing to bend a little? It’s not about settling but rather anticipating all the different outcomes and counter-offers available.

4. Know your walking point. Exactly when are you willing to leave the negotiating table? Determine beforehand the amount of push-back you’re willing to accept before the discussion hits a dead-end.

5. Understand your negotiating partner. Take the time to investigate the motives and reasoning the person on the opposite side of has. What do they want? And realize that they don’t always want what you’re looking for (meeting your needs).

6. Never compare yourselves to others. You can never be fully informed about someone else’s situation, which is why you shouldn’t bring others into your compensation or negotiation discussion. Also, don’t allow them to do it either.

The Women of Power Summit was Feb. 11-14 at the Ritz-Carlton, Grande Lakes in Orlando, Florida.

Tennille M. Robinson is the small business editor at Black Enterprise magazine.