By Rana Cash
The simplest — and most common — response to rejection is to cower in disappointment.
Stopping there, in the middle of your want, is a mistake played out in newsrooms, across conference tables and behind closed doors daily, says Lisa Gates, co-founder of Shenegotiates.com, who will speak during Friday’s lunch during AWSM’s conference this summer in Arizona.
“No is the beginning of the conversation,” Gates says, “not the end.”
Embracing opposition as an opportunity rather than viewing it as a failure is the first step in learning to negotiate skillfully, and in a manner that is more likely to yield positive results. Executing the art of healthy negotiation can lead to increased salaries, greater stability and better interviews for those willing to face resistance with proven strategies.
And it isn’t just about money, although that is often what drives people to the table. It also involves resolving conflict. Speaking up when an editor makes an unapproved change in a story. Working with a difficult colleague. Asking to travel for an important story, even though everyone else is grounded. Landing the interview after repeatedly being told it won’t happen.
It’s drilling down to what matters most — and not burning bridges along the way.
“You are negotiating something every day,” Gates says. “You may not be negotiating with the intention of coming to an agreement. But we’re constantly engaged in some sort of request and response.”
But, inherent fears of conflict and uncomfortable situations often result in avoiding these conversations all together.
“If someone steals your lunch, you brew and steam on it a couple days,” Gates says. “But you don’t bring it up; you sit on it.”
Gates says some of our response can be attributed to our upbringing. For example, someone raised in a household where adults tip-toed around problems without ever really addressing them might be inclined to act out similarly in a professional environment. On the contrary, an individual who witnessed screaming and shouting as a method of resolving issues may approach negotiating situations as a professional in the same manner.
That doesn’t mean either is a lost cause. Negotiating is a skill that can be practiced and perfected over time. When it comes to salary negotiation, Gates says it’s important to recognize your worth. Don’t just ask for or demand more money.
Make your best pitch.
“Ask, how do you see my contribution benefitting the bottom line? What do you want? How can I shine? Where do you see my growth potential?”
In other words, use your employer’s responses to frame your request as a benefit to them — and help your employer to see what you see in yourself.
“You might say, ‘I’m willing to work; willing to do a great job. What will it take for me to get up to speed to where everyone else is in the company?’ We have to default to asking. You can’t just not ask.”
Negotiating isn’t always comfortable or easy, and it doesn’t always go your way. But, even a no can work in your favor.
“Prepare and do your research. Speak about your accomplishments, sing your own praises in a way that’s comfortable for you,” Gates said.
“Stay at the table,” she added. “Try to invite your negotiation partner to be your ally so you can look for ways to solve the problem together.”
In addition to her Friday lunch session — “Developing your bragging rights” — Gates will lead a second session Friday morning — “How to set and get your true market value.”