Negotiation Skills for Women

Alison Wegner May 15, 2018

Negotiation is a complex skill, one which requires practice, patience and a keen understanding of many moving parts.

These difficulties are only compounded for women, who are often at a disadvantage merely due to their gender. Stereotypes, social norms and expectations all result in women negotiating less and obtaining worse outcomes than their male counterparts. (1)

Luckily, there are a few simple tips you can use to improve your position at the bargaining table.

Just Ask

Women often just accept whatever is offered first –  failing to negotiate for better outcomes. With respect to salaries, 68% of women accepted the salary they were offered as compared to only 52% of men. (2)

Play to your Strengths

Women are socialized to be more inclusive and cooperative. This can cost us when the negotiation is highly competitive and aggressive. However, when the negotiation is collaborative, women tend to excel. (1) Luckily, many negotiations require this cooperative approach. For example, in instances like a joint venture or union setting where the relationship is important and will continue over time.

Communicate your Position

Research has found that women are more likely to explain their feelings or personal opinions on a matter up for discussion. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to share their positions. (1) Women can get caught up in explaining why they are taking a stance rather than actually explaining the position itself. Remember, you will not obtain your outcome if you fail to communicate it!

Don’t Try to be One of the Boys

Women who attempt to use aggressive tactics in bargaining are viewed more harshly than men using the same tactics. (1) Thus, copying techniques of male counterparts is not an effective method.

Prime Yourself

Women are more successful at negotiations when undertaken on someone else’s behalf. For example, consider how much more assertive you can be when negotiating on behalf of a family member! (1) Thus, it may be valuable to consider who else the outcome of this negotiation may impact, so you can tap into that same power for your own benefit. (1)

(1) Lewicki, Roy J. (2017). Essentials of negotiation. Boston, Mass.:McGraw-Hill/Irwin. Chapter 5.

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