At the Women in Science and Technology conference, the final workshop I attended was given by Linda Baracs, a professor of law, ethics and negotiation at the University of San Diego. Her workshop was entitled, He Said, She Said: The Art of Negotiation. Linda gave an exceptional workshop, which many people participated in. She has not only had a successful litigation career, but has participated in many additional training courses on negotiation. She was a wonderful choice to give this very enlightening topical discussion.
She began by reminding us that we negotiate everyday and that it is a very important skill to practice and improve. There are many ways to describe what negotiation means: how to get what I want, how to get you to give me what I want, how to give up as little as possible while getting what I want etc. The definition of negotiation is, “mutual discussion and arrangement of the terms of a transaction or agreement.” The question we asked was: when is it appropriate to negotiate? Her answer: Always.
Negotiation is 80% preparation to 20% actual negotiation. We have to seriously think before we even begin the negotiation process.
1) BATNA. Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement. What will you do if you can’t negotiate this agreement? Is what they are offering better than BATNA?
2) Set a reservation point. What is your limit before you walk away?
3) What is your aspiration point? What do you want, or what is your goal? Always ask for above your target so there is negotiating room down to what you actually want.
Her advice on first offers:
• If you have no experience or idea what is usual, don’t make it.
• Only make a first offer if you know an awful lot about the subject.
• Never make a first offer on salary. Allow the employer to make it.
• Never accept a first offer, always try to negotiate a better deal.
Linda talked us through the fine line we walk when it comes to negotiating. Experience will help us to judge where this line is. Therefore, we should practice on unimportant things to prepare us for when the big challenges come. The fine line includes your need to self promote, but not too much as there may be a backlash. Also, don’t be too aggressive while negotiating, as you may not get what you want (especially if it is a job offer).
A point to bear in mind is that women tend to negotiate better on someone else’s behalf, therefore imagine you are doing it for your family. Men negotiate at the same level whether it is for themselves or someone else.
She ended with some key advice. Fake it until you make it. You may not yet feel ready or comfortable in negotiating. However, begin the process and eventually you should feel better about the whole thing.
Therefore, the next time you are having a discussion about something, try your negotiating skills. Which restaurant should we eat in tonight? What film should we watch? Who is doing the dishes? You never know when or how the practice will pay off!
To learn more about Women in Science and Technology, you can visit their site: http://sdawis.org/