Negotiating Your 20s: What a Negotiating Expert Knows Now

Today wraps up part three in a series of posts I did based on an interview with Carol Frohlinger, lawyer, negotiation expert, co-founder of Negotiating Women, Inc. and author of Her Place at the Table: A Woman’s Guide to Negotiating Five Key Challenges to Leadership Success (Jossey-Bass/John Wiley, September 2004). She recently co-authored Nice Girls Just Don’t Get It: 99 Ways to Win the Respect You Deserve, the Success You’ve Earned, and the Life You Want with Lois Frankel.  Today’s post focuses on the classic 40:20 Vision question, what do you know now that you wish you knew then. Here’s what Carol had to say:

Christina: What do you know now in terms of women in the workplace that you wish you knew when you were 20?

Carol: Where shall I begin? Generally speaking, one of the things that Sheryl Sandberg said in her Ted Talk and that I think is such good advice is “don’t leave before you leave.” It was related to the fact that, in her experience, women start to pull back at work before they even have serious relationships, husbands or children in the anticipation that it’s going to be a real challenge to live a balanced life when they do.

Her advice is stay in the game until you can’t stay in the game. Don’t pull back in the anticipation that someday you’ll have to. That day isn’t here yet. I think it’s particularly important for Gen Y women because from what I’ve read, they’re more interested in having  work-life balance than the people in my generation who were willing to do whatever it took to succeed at work.

Secondly, I definitely think that understanding early on that negotiation is not just deal making would have given me so much more power and made my life easier.  Knowing that negotiation is  not just something you do when you’re going to buy a car or you’re discussing compensation for a new job. Actually, we’re negotiating all the time — any time we need to reach agreement with others. Understand that there’s “capital N” negotiation, when you’re all dressed up and you know you’re negotiating, but there is also “lower case n” negotiations that happen all the time. These can be with your husband, your children, your family, your friends, your mom, your colleagues or your clients. The goal in these kinds of negotiations is to meet the other person’s needs AND meet your own needs. Say you are trying to split a piece of pie, it doesn’t have to be who gets the bigger piece. Maybe I like the filling and you like the crust, so we both win. Negotiation is about changing the size of the pie and expanding the pie. It’s not just about getting what you want at the cost of damaging the relationship with the other party.

Finally, I’d say to recognize that you can (and should) use your voice to affect change, even if you’re not the boss yet! If you are asking your boss or higher ups to change something, don’t make it a “yes” or “no” question. Anyone who owns a company wants people that are engaged. Managers want happy workers. You do have some leverage. Start by listening to their interests and see if there is another way to meet their needs while also addressing yours. Just because it hasn’t been done that way before, doesn’t mean it can’t be done that way now.  Change it up. You can. All it takes is creativity and follow through.

– Carol Frohlinger,  Nice Girls Just Don’t Get It

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