Webinar Notes: How to Become a Better Negotiator
This week’s webinar notes are from an August 21st webinar run by CPP Inc, the provider of the Meyers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator Assessment. The webinar was presented by Pamela Valencia, a CPP Solutions Consultant. The event is available on demand on CPPs site.
Being a better negotiator is a topic that you would think had been completely covered by now, but this event offered some new thoughts – even in a compressed 30-minute format. Because CPP is focused on personality, knowing yourself and your fellow negotiators was the core message to this event. Also key was understanding when two dynamics are at play at once so you can divide your reactions to them, and the attitudes they foster.
Separate the idea of conflict from your mindset about negotiation.
The two do not always go hand in hand, and often shape our attitudes about negotiation because we are conflict averse. As defined in the event, conflict is the cross product of interdependence and differences. The more interdependent the parties are, and the greater the differences in their opinion, perspective, and needs, the more conflict there is likely to be. The level of conflict is also tied to how much is at stake, both for the individuals involved and the organizations they represent.
Separate your feelings about the process from the outcome.
Some of us are so desirous for the negotiation process to be over that the need to reach a resolution overshadows the need to reach a satisfactory resolution. Part of making this easier is making investments in your BATNA – or Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. In other words, the less stress a negotiator feels to get to an agreement with one or more alternatives, the better they will feel about the process as a whole.
The Gender Question
Pamela Valencia also addressed the role that gender bias plays in negotiation and what both women and men should do to improve the outcome of their negotiations. She handled this potentially explosive topic in a constructive way – of course it helped that she was a female talking about gender differences. The same point of view might not have been so well received by a male speaker.
I like the terminology Valencia used in describing the role gender plays in a negotiation. She didn’t say that it makes a difference, she acknowledged that we are all faced with biases – in other words preconceived notions about how people should act and sound in certain circumstances as well as how we interpret the motives of people who defy our expectations. Somewhat surprisingly, women hold many of the same gender expectations that men do. In other words, one of the research studies cited in the webinar found that both males and females penalized women who negotiated too aggressively.
Understanding all of these expectations is important because of another necessary separation:
1. What is happening, and
2. How it appears.
If the goal is to appear more communal, as Valencia put it, it is important to frame or position our wants in a negotiation in terms of the collective value they hold. While it doesn’t help in salary negotiations, female procurement professionals are in a position of advantage here – we are paid to negotiate for communal benefits. Making sure that is reflected in our language should become a routine part of our negotiation preparation.
It is worth viewing the webinar in order to hear the examples Valencia provides – especially since anchoring statements to proven data was one of her better negotiation recommendations. She made a strong case for understanding the role gender plays in a negotiation. More importantly, in my opinion, she stayed positive and spent more time focused on what should be done as a result of pre-existing biases than on the conditions that allowed them to form in the first place.