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5 Negotiation Exercises for Women Working to Become Expert Negotiators

By |April 04, 2022

Let’s face it: The business world isn’t always easy for women. 

No matter how accomplished and experienced we are, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before a counterpart will use our womanhood against us—or at least try to.

As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. 

Incorporate these negotiation exercises into your routine to increase the chances that your next deal goes off without a hitch.

woman negotiating contract with man  in an office

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1. Prepare your mindset.

If you’re like me, you’ve been made to feel less than simply because you are a woman.

But by taking time to prepare your mindset ahead of each engagement, you can put yourself in a much stronger position to stay calm and gain the confidence you need to pivot the conversation in productive ways.

I frequently will take some breaths before entering the conversation. I remind myself of why I am there, and that I am completely capable of achieving that outcome. I remind myself that any biases they have about me are not warranted or fair. This gives me space to keep my emotions in check. 

It’s not fair that women are faced with this. But what makes it worse is when they are unfair to me and then I also don’t get what I was looking for. By preparing mentally beforehand, I create space for my own emotional reaction, and I can respond calmly to be able to still achieve my desired outcome.

2. Practice Accusation Audits™.

Women are taught that it’s their job to make people happy. As a result, many of us are scared of making people upset. If you’re anything like me you have spent hours unnecessarily pouring over emails and phone calls, worrying about how people will respond to you.

When it comes down to it, not everyone will be happy with you. That’s just the way it is. So instead of focusing on not disappointing people, we can figure out how to maintain relationships even while having to deliver bad news.

Practicing Accusation Audits™ will be the gamechanger. You can soften any news to the point where eventually you spend all that time worrying about your bad news emails!  

Try this internally with some colleagues:

What I’m going to tell you is going to be very upsetting.I know you have put so much effort into this project, so you will likely feel like all it has all been for nothing. We are pushing back the timeline.

Or with your kids:

You’ve been so excited about this sleepover so this is going to be really hard to hear. You’re going to want to punch me right in the face. You won’t be able to go if your room isn’t clean.

As you practice this, you will feel less scared of those emails and phone calls, because you have practiced enough to have confidence that you can deliver bad news without huge backlash.

3. Give a Summary™ of the other side’s stance.

Many times in my career, someone has hopped on a phone call with me expecting a man. When I’m on Zoom, I have seen my counterpart’s face fall when they see that I’m a woman. It’s strange to be on a call with someone, and realize they have a bias against you from the beginning.

This is where Summaries™ can be particularly helpful. If you can focus on the conversation, gather information, and thoroughly summarize exactly what your counterpart is experiencing, you can build trust—regardless of their initial impression of you.

Practice Summaries and enrich your confidence-boosting skills. It’s that simple.

4. Use Labels™ and Mirrors™ to gather information.

If you’re like me, you find it difficult when someone doesn’t want to share information. 

When you find yourself in a situation in which the counterpart does not want to share information, you need to get more strategic. This is where two Black Swan tools—Labels™ and Mirrors™—can be particularly helpful.

When you use Labels and Mirrors effectively, you will gather enough information to give your counterpart a great Summary. It’s a way to ensure Tactical Empathy™ is embedded in everything you say. 

These are really easy to practice on anyone. When you are speaking with a friend, and they seem a little down, you can try a label - “It seems like it’s been a rough day,” and then mirror to discover more.

5. Practice Dynamic Silence™.

Many women are taught to make people feel comfortable. So in many cases, women will fill any silence to defuse an awkward situation. 

This is where practicing Dynamic Silence can be a game changer. Don’t feel like you have to fill the space because you don’t.

Remember: It’s not your job to fill the silence. Someone else can. By using silence strategically, you can give your counterpart space and potentially discover Black Swans.  

This seems like an easy one, but it requires practice. Practice slowing down, taking breaths, and allowing more silence in your day-to-day conversations so it won’t feel as strange in the negotiations. Incorporate these negotiation exercises into your routine, and great things will happen.

While you’re at it, continue your learning by checking out our free guide, 7 Unexpected Ways to Increase Sales.

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