The Art of The Ask

Posted April 18, 2013 by Bobbie LaPorte in On the Ladder
Why is it that the thought of asking for a promotion, raise, or something else we feel we deserve creates so much anxiety for many of us?

With the changing nature of work and the rapid-fire pace of professional and personal change, negotiating is no longer an option: it is the currency of business and a basic survival skill.

Here is the good news: most negotiating is no longer considered a battle of wills, a competitive, adversarial activity based on the notion of “winning”. That has been replaced by a more collaborative, problem-solving approach, based on the premise that the best outcome happens in an exchange that makes mutual gains possible – using positive communications, collaboration and the power of relationships – all things women excel at!

So here are some keys for you to consider on your way to becoming a successful and confident negotiator:

• GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY: Many women have a tendency to focus in their weaknesses, to start a negotiation with an apology: “You are probably too busy to talk about this now”, or “I probably don’t have the right skills for this”. Watch out for self-defeating behavior that will undermine your ability to negotiate the best possible outcome

• KNOW YOUR VALUE: So many of us underestimate our skills, strengths and the value we bring to our employer. Take the time to inventory your skills and accomplishments so that you can clearly articulate your value and have the information you need to present a solid case and have a successful outcome

• DEFINE YOUR GOALS & OPTIONS: You can’t be a successful negotiator if you are not clear about your interests. Be prepared to state what you want (Think Big. You might not get everything you want but you will be starting your negotiation with the right frame of mind), and also be prepared to discuss and consider a range of options

Remember: the best negotiations are exercises in two-way communication. There will likely be differences in feelings, needs and perspectives on both sides of the table. By engaging the other person and showing an appreciation for these differences, you will reach a shared understanding – and start working together towards a mutual, satisfactory solution.

About the Author

Bobbie LaPorte

Bobbie LaPorte, is Founder and Principal of RAL & Associates, a consulting firm providing career and leadership development services to technology, financial services and healthcare organizations. RAL & Associates produces the “When She Speaks” – Women in Leadership Series in San Francisco, sponsored by blue chip Bay Area companies. Before founding RAL & Associates, Bobbie served in GM, COO and CMO roles in several Fortune 50 companies, including IBM, GE and United Healthcare, as well as two healthcare technology start-ups. A certified career coach, she has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts and an MBA from Harvard. She is a nationally-recognized expert on the powerful relationship between physical fitness and career success, and an accomplished triathlete and multi-sport coach. Bobbie is currently training for her fifth Ironman triathlon. When she is not coaching executives or Ironman triathletes she proudly serves on a number of Bay Area non-profit boards and happily rescues senior Golden Retriever dogs