292 – October 19
“The winds and the waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators.”—Edward Gibbon
Young and single, I had been focusing on my work life, to the detriment of my personal life. My friend and fellow business owner, Janice, was in the same boat. We decided it was time to make our reappearance on the dating scene. Never comfortable with making small talk in bars, we decided to go sign up with the “Great Expectations” video dating service.
When we arrived, the salespeople insisted on splitting us up for their presentations. Each of us was taken separately to a small room where we were pitched on the wonderful “shopping mall of men” (my expression, not theirs). Well, Janice and I were “pre-sold” buyers—we went there knowing we were going to sign up. We were happy to find out all the details of how it worked, but whether or not we were going to sign up was never an issue. We were signing up. The only issue was price.
Diligently, my salesman coaxed me to sign up at the going rate of $1,500. Luckily, I knew that prices on these kinds of services could be negotiable. I countered with a lower price. We haggled back and forth, and came to agreement at around $1,000. But now I played my trump card.
“I’m not signing or agreeing to anything until I talk to Janice,” I said.
“Why?” asked the salesman.
“Because Janice is a better negotiator than I am!” I replied. “And I will be very unhappy if I walk out of here with her and find out she got a better deal than I did. So I want to know now, and I want the same price she’s getting.”
He hemmed and hawed and tried to tell me that was against their “rules” etc. I said fine, I am happy to leave without signing up. As I got up out of my chair, he quickly said, “Okay, you win,” and went off to find Janice.
A few minutes later, he reappeared. “Well?” I asked.
He grinned sheepishly. “You were right,” he said. “Your friend Janice is a better negotiator. She got another hundred dollars off the price. So I will give it to you for the same price that she got.” Happily, I signed the deal, paid the money, and was a happy client of “GE” for years.
The moral of the story is that you don’t always have to be the best negotiator. You just have to know the best negotiator.
“I am always able to negotiate the best deal there is!”
“A scientific study did a demonstration showing that high-priced placebos, or sugar pills, are more effective than low-priced placebos.”—notice in The Reader’s Digest
I laughed when I read that, but I know in my heart it is true. I also know it from experience. People hold things that cost more money in higher esteem. If you go to the furniture store and see one couch for $500 and another for $1500 – which one do you think is a better couch?
It just seems natural that if it costs more, it’s worth more.
But that’s not necessarily the case. If the first couch was made by a woman and the second one was made by a man, they could actually be the same couch. Because across the board, women price themselves, their talents, abilities, and their work lower than men do.
Did you know that salespeople in car dealerships consistently quote higher prices to women than to men?
Did you know that employers often make lower first offers to women than they make to men and take it for granted that women will work for less?
And that they routinely set higher targets against women, make tougher first offers, press harder for concessions, and resist conceding more than they would if they were negotiating with men?
- Men think of negotiating as “winning a ballgame”
- Women think of negotiating as “going to the dentist”
- When men negotiate, they get paid approximately 30% more than women
- By failing to negotiate their starting salary, a person can lose $500,000 by age 60
I understand it – I think it’s partly biological – a woman needs to be able to put others first in order to raise children. Women are extremely adept at negotiating in one particular arena – they are great at asking on behalf of others. This giving quality makes us great care-givers, nurturers, teachers, and workers in the helping professions, and especially non-profits. We’d work for free if we didn’t have any bills to pay. We naturally think of others and the stress they might have in paying us. So we make allowances, reduce our rate, and even give it away for free. We wait for people to call us because we don’t want to “bother” them. Even when they ask us to call them!
A lot of this is cultural – they way we were brought up to be “good girls”. How can we re-train ourselves to ask for what we deserve in a cheerful, feminine, yet strong manner? How can we avoid being seen as “grasping” or “demanding” or “salesy” or “bitchy”—not just by others, but by ourselves?
So is there a way that we can we take back control of our negotiations, ask for what we want and get it, without being pushy, aggressive and offending people?
Yes. It’s been proven that when women were taught self-management principles, learned to anticipate obstacles that might cause stress and anxiety, made plans to overcome them, set goals for themselves, practiced with a partner to build self-confidence, and rewarded themselves by celebrating the goals they achieved, the gender gap in results was completely eliminated!