Your boss just announced you’ll be working this weekend—when you’ve already made plans. Earlier, your presentation was sabotaged by the project leader. And before that, your assistant dropped the ball on your travel arrangements, so you’re going to miss the first day of an important conference.
Every day, the workplace offers the potential for conflict. Navigating business relationships and on-the-job discord can be tricky, and women tend to approach and resolve it differently than our male counterparts. Luckily, the qualities that make us different can be used to our advantage.
How Women Approach Conflict Resolution
Conflict triggers are different for men and women:
- Women feel conflict when relationships are threatened. For men, it’s more about their position in the business world.
- Women tend to be more sensitive to personality conflicts, as well as to gender-role stereotypes – especially if the stereotype has little to do with the job. (Think of the only female in a meeting being asked to fetch coffee.)
- Men tend to shake off workplace slights, negative personal comments and personality differences more quickly.
When conflicts arise, women talk in depth and at length about the disagreement, and focus on their participation in the relationship. They voice concerns about fairness and can be more accommodating to others’ needs than to their own. In contrast, men tend to use more linear language when discussing a dispute.
The Strategies Women Offer
The good news is that women don’t have to conform to workplace gender and conflict perceptions. To paraphrase Gandhi, women can “be the change we want to see in the (working) world.” We can change the gender triggers that may make us feel that we’re worth less – or are less worthy to be at the table. Here are a few strategies to employ:
ectations tend to follow behavior. So, if women behave as though we are entitled (to better pay, a voice or a promotion) we will be treated as though we are entitled.
- The expectation that women won’t negotiate as strongly as men can be changed by doing just that.
- Reduce typical gender triggers by repositioning the framework of the conflict or negotiation. For example, instead of taking it personally or focusing on the relationship, reframe the disagreement as counterproductive to the project, which affects everyone on the team.
- Separate your identity from the conflict. Focus on what is being said, not how it makes you feel. You may even realize that the message says more about the sender than you.
- Women often enter negotiations with a collaborative mindset, believing that both sides can benefit. This can be a great advantage over men, who often see negotiations as a competitive exercise.
At work, women may avoid speaking or standing up for their beliefs, so they don’t appear too masculine or aggressive. We do this because of our fear of harming relationships.
It might help to lose the term “aggressive,” with its negative connotations, and embrace the term “assertive.” In addition, flip the fear of perception on its head. Instead of being concerned with how you will look if you take an assertive stance on an issue you care about, think about how you will look if you don’t. After all, you don’t want your employer to wonder why they ever hired you, right?
About the author: Melissa Russell writes on leadership management and negotiation. She also writes on topics such as business administration and corporate sustainability for a number of universities through the University Alliance. Find Melissa on Twitter @M_L_Russell.
I recently had the opportunity to attend a women’s networking event hosted by PricewaterhouseCoopers in St. Louis. Our speaker was Adrian Bracy, CEO of the Metro St. Louis YWCA.
Ms. Bracy told her story of growing up in Miami and not feeling like she fit in. She shared stories of how she found a small group of friends to support and accept her, ladies who still are a major support to her years later. Her stories of career transition as an accountant working in the NFL for various teams to her current role as the CEO of the YWCA in St. Louis were fascinating. It was something she shared about what inspired her that leads me to share with you today.
Ms. Bracy mentioned reading Women Don’t Ask a few years ago as she was on a plane for a high level job interview. From what she shared about the book, the lesson is that women are raised to receive an offer (job offer or other offers) and say “thank you.” Men are raised to receive an offer and start negotiating.
Do women know the art of negotiation?
There are exceptions to every stereotype out there, but in this case, I’ll venture to guess that many women do accept job offers or answers from our leaders without question. We don’t ask for higher salaries, for more help or resources nor more help from our family members. Is it because it is not comfortable? Is it because we are not competent in negotiation? Is it because we want to avoid confrontation? Many women avoid negotiation for varied reasons. However, whatever the reason, it is something we can learn and get better at with time.
Right now, today, you can:
- Arm yourself with information. Take time to think about what you truly need then do the research necessary to get yourself comfortable. This will position you for having a creative approach to the solution you desire.
- Don’t be afraid to be honest. A good example of honesty paying off comes when negotiating workload. Many employees today get their work from multiple sources; a supervisor, other colleagues, company leaders, clients, vendors…the list goes on and on. After sifting through what needs to be done, being able to approach people and squarely address and negotiate different deadlines and deliverables will be key to better managing the workload.
- Build a relationship. Whether you are negotiating with a family member or a potential boss, being able to show you are not afraid to ask for something and negotiate a situation will ideally build a stronger relationship and demonstrate you are worthy of respect. Show respect to them and understanding for their needs and they are likely to want to negotiate to help you reach your needs as well.
The key to being a good negotiator is not about how many negotiations you win at. The key is getting yourself comfortable with doing it more often- or just starting to do it. Take that step and you’ll be the one asking for, and getting, what you want!
Photo credit: iStockphoto
This is the 9th post in our Women of HR series focusing on career. Read along, consider the advice and we invite you to comment with insights of your own.
Go into your next interview prepared to negotiate.
One can argue that a well laid plan is never a bad idea. However, when it comes to negotiating a salary—it’s a must!
I am telling you this from experience.
When on the job search a few years ago in Denver, I accepted a really low salary because I wasn’t prepared to negotiate pay for what I thought was fair. I ended up feeling stuck in a low paying job with no chance of a near raise or bonus. So I sought the advice of a personal injury attorney, who advised me on the proper techniques for negotiating a fair salary that both myself and my employer were happy with.
Going into your next interview prepared with some rough salary calculations will keep your eye on the prize. And because salary negotiations in an interview can create a lot of anxiety—the thought of confrontation might leave you feeling nervous. Or you might end up sounding either too greedy if you ask for too much or just plain pathetic if you don’t ask for what you think you’re worth and just accept the base offer. Having a range in mind can take a lot of pressure off both you and your potential employer.
Follow these 5 steps when negotiating your next salary:
1. Settle on a suitable salary range before your interview
Going into an interview, you may be afraid of the uncomfortable point when the interviewer will ask you what your salary expectations are. You know it’s going to happen, so why not be prepared with a salary range? You can settle on a suitable salary range by researching the average salary of comparable positions in the city you work in. You will get paid more for your higher education and any special skills or qualifications you might have as well. Keep this in mind: if you ask for more than you want, the interviewer will be forced to negotiate if they really want you and you may end up with money than what the employer originally had in mind.
2. Don’t bring up salary
At some point during the meeting, the interviewer will want to talk about your salary expectations. However, that doesn’t mean you need to be the one to talk money first. I recommend letting the interviewer bring the topic up, then ask about the range they are willing to pay, before you offer up an expected amount. This way, you get the upper hand by learning what they are willing to pay first (they are probably working within a budget). After that, you can aim for the high end of the employer’s range instead of guessing in the dark.
3. Always negotiate in a range
Never state a solid number and stick to it. It’s best to give the employer a high and low end to work with. This tactic is not meant to devalue your skills or education, but stating a range rather than a firm numbers shows that you are willing to work with the employer so that everyone is happy.
4. Support your worth
Your potential employer isn’t going to just agree to pay you what you want without some sort of explanation on your part. You will be expected to provide the “why?” Meaning “why” you think you deserve this range of pay. Your calculation should be based on the skills and work experience you will bring to the table (i.e., so your education, skills, expertise, professional accolades, and your years of service).
5. Remember there are bonuses to any salary
If the job is one that you know you will really enjoy, but the employer can’t pay you the money you expect, all is not lost! Negotiations as far as things like holidays, lieu days, and health benefits are still on the table. Many start-up companies and small businesses will offer employees lower salaries, but make up for it when it comes to additional holidays or bonuses until they can afford to pay employees more in salary. Remember, bonuses and holidays can bulk up your salary by almost half if you consider lieu days, reduced hours, and the option to work from home.
Learning the proper techniques for negotiating a salary means that you won’t end up accepting the base offer or agreeing to less pay than you think you’re worth. If you do, your whole job hunt could be for nothing because you’ll be unfulfilled financially and looking for a better paying job right away.
Photo credit iStockphoto
About The Author: Colleen Harding is a staff writer for a Denver personal injury attorney and guest blogger who specializes on writing about law. Today, Colleen hopes that sharing her knowledge will make us all happy, law-abiding citizens. She is also a member of Amnesty International as well as an active volunteer in her community.