As part of our “Women In Product” event series, Arrows Group recently co-hosted a workshop event with Publicis.Sapient, focused on helping women in develop their skills and become more confident in the work place. As part of this, we will be sharing some of the key messages discussed at the event.
Based on what was discussed, see what Arrows Group’s Women In Tech ambassador, Alex Lonergan, recommends for good negotiating in the work place.
Negotiation is a tool that is vitally important in many aspects of life. Juggling the needs of stakeholders in a tech team, securing your next job or even persuading your three-year-old to eat their vegetables all involve negotiations. Here are some of the top tips the Women In Product community came up with to improve the ways you can improve how you negotiate.
1. Know your own priorities
When it comes to negotiating for anything, there are always multiple layers to any decision you make. Using the example of negotiating a job offer; by identifying what’s most important to YOU. Whether it’s the money, the company culture, the work:life balance or something else entirely, if you understand what is most important to you, you’ll know what you’re prepared to compromise on.
Top tip: make a list of all the different aspects of your decision-making process and order them according to what matters most to you to help you logically prioritise.
2. Knowledge is power
It goes without saying that the more you understand about the issue you’re negotiating, the more likely it is you’ll be able to get what you want. Your arguments will be stronger and decisions made will be much more well informed. Importantly, make sure you understand what the other party wants. Understand who the key decision makers are, how they can impact final decisions and their priorities. Ask open questions to help identify their priorities as well as your own and listen to what they say and understand their fears; by understanding these things, you’ll be much more likely to find some common ground and conclude negotiations in your favour.
3. Give away quick, easy wins
If you’re in the midst of negotiation and there seems to be no end in sight, go back to the list of your own priorities and the other party’s priorities/arguments. Is there anything on that second list that you’d be prepared to give to the person you’re negotiating with in order to win some of the things that are more important to you? By giving away quick, easy wins, not only do you build trust with the person you’re negotiating with, you’re also much more likely to get the things that matter most to you,.
4. Look at the bigger picture
When you have you heart set on something, for example a new product feature, it can be easy to put your blinkers on and fight for that thing no matter what the cost. However, sometimes the best thing to do is take a step back and look at the bigger picture. In this instance: bring your mind back to what the original problem was and what benefits your decision will bring to the customer. Does everything you’re negotiating for maximise the chances of solving these issues or is there room for compromise?
5. Don’t make it a battle!
At the end of the day, very few people will negotiate just for the sake of negotiating; the aim of the game is to come to a conclusion. Remember to find that common ground (whether that be securing your perfect job or negotiating more money out of a stakeholder for your product); at the end of the day there will always be a common aim you both want to achieve. Giving people different options increases their scope to compromise too. Reminding the other party of what this common aim is once you’ve identified it will make you much more likely to come together to find a solution as oppose to fighting over things just for the sake of not wanting to lose the debate.
6. Let logic and data help drive decisions
It’s much harder to argue with hard numbers and facts than it is abstract ideas. Quantative and qualatitive data are great tools for backing up your arguments and helping you to win negotiation points; hence in the product world testing is so important! Explain clearly, concisely and with facts WHY some ideas are not viable and why your solution may be better; when it comes to it, reason and logic are the strongest tools to backing up your arguments.
7. People buy into people
I don’t know about you, but when it comes to negotiation I’m much more likely to want to compromise with someone I like and trust than someone I don’t, no matter how convincing the data is. It all boils down to the fact people buy into people. Being authentic and transparent about your motives, having empathy (letting people know that you understand their point of view, even if you don’t agree with it) and humanising negotiations (a bit of humour and a personal touch go a long way) will help people buy into you and your argument.
8. Keep an open mind
Negotiating with someone who has wacky ideas you see as ridiculous? Just remember; people thought Henry Ford was insane for wanting to commercialise the motor vehicle, and look how wrong they turned out to be! Try to listen to other people’s arguments with a degree of neutrality, countering things with reason. What’s more, if you can work out a way to give in to some of the smaller parts of these ideas, it’s much more likely that they’ll be willing to back down on some of the larger, more unrealistic things.
9. Use smart body language
Depending on where you get your information, it’s reported that around 55% of messages are conveyed through body language and non-verbal cues. This is a topic that deserves its own article, but some top tips for strong negotiation body language include mirroring the body language counterpart, maintaining friendly eye contact, keep the right amounts of personal space and having a good, assertive handshake. Remember that different cultures respond differently to different non-verbal cues – the body language dance is a complex one to master but definitely an art worth perfecting! Calm, confident body language is always a strong bet; keeping that poker face and not giving too much away in the heat of negotiations can take you far!
From a verbal perspective; playing on silence is not always a bad thing. As my boss always tells me when I’m negotiating – make your point and let it stew!
10. It’s okay to ask for help
Negotiating can be tough, particularly when you’re negotiating things for yourself. One of the best tips I’ve heard is when you’re struggling to negotiate for yourself, imagine you are negotiating for someone you love; you’ll be more likely to fight for the important things and not give in.
For more junior people in particular, it’s likely you’ll not have as much exposure to negotiating as someone with more years’ experience. It’s okay to ask for help – get senior people to take you along to their negotiations or to shadow you and provide constructive criticism, it’ll go miles. For those more senior, offering up your expertise is a great thing to do and will help form a company full of great negotiators who know how to negotiate and for the right reasons. And remember – practice makes perfect. Negotiating can be intimidating at times, but the only way to get better is to keep on practising and work out the way that works best for you!
11. Celebrate successes
Once all the hard work has been put in and negotiations have been successful, celebrate what you have achieved! Celebrating with the person you’ve negotiated with is important too – again it’ll help to build trust and improve relationships. Even if you didn’t quite get what you want this time, think about what you learnt from the negotiation process and how next time you can improve; personal growth is a success in itself!
In summary, negotiating anything can be complex but with a logical, level headed approach, it doesn’t have to be a struggle. Hopefully some of these tips prove to be helpful – and don’t forget to celebrate every negotiation success and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!
Like what you’ve seen here and up for coming to our next event? Next time we are going global – so if you’re in Amsterdam on 17th July to our event Women in Product 3 with Travix.
@Alex Lonergan is the Product and Agile Consultant and Women in Technology Ambassador here at Arrows Group. For more information on career opportunities, working with us and Women In Tech, please connect!