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Negotiating: It’s a Matter of Confidence

Susanna Hoffs was performing at a local club with the Bangles, which was to become the dominant all-female rock band of the 1980s, garnering four platinum albums and two number-one hit singles. Miles Copeland, the manager who had engineered the earlier success of another all-girl band, the Go-Gos, approached them after the show to talk about representing the group.

Rather than act like she should be grateful for his interest, Susanna “took the position that he should want to work with them because they were going places.” It helped, of course, that at the time she “had no idea who Miles Copeland was, and therefore didn’t know she should be nervous.” Because of the confidence with which she approached that negotiation, she was able to work out a favorable deal with Miles to have him manage the group.

Confidence is the secret weapon in negotiating and exerting influence. To gain agreement from others, you need to persuade them that what you are proposing is based on an accurate understanding of the facts, is fair, and is mutually beneficial.

Studies have shown that being able to win people over depends more on how you say things than on what is actually said. Put another way, if you want to persuade someone then whatever you say, you have to say with confidence. Confidence comes from understanding the negotiating process. For women, that means not only learning the basic skills that all negotiators need to know, but also understanding what works for women, and what doesn’t, when negotiating.

There are different dynamics when a man negotiates with another man than when a woman negotiates with a man or a woman negotiates with another woman. While many of the same negotiating and influencing techniques can be use with equal effect by men and women, they sometimes need to be applied differently. .

A major difference between men and women is how they react when they are not confident. When men are feeling unsure, they do not let on. Often they engage in false bravado. Women, on the other hand, tend to be more forthright and don’t seek to hide their uncertainty. When it comes to negotiating the more confidence you exhibit the more likely you are to be successful. So, if you are not fully confident, “fake it until you make it.” Project self-assurance. Smile; stand up or lean forward; look your audience in the eye; project your voice; be enthusiastic and do no equivocate about your position.

Many women who believe they are not good negotiators simply have never been taught how to negotiate. Negotiating is a skill, like driving, that has to be learned. Like driving, negotiating not only needs to be learned, but requires practice. The more you do it the better you become. Eventually negotiating just becomes second nature.

Once you master the art of negotiating, you will soon realize that the only limits there are in your life are those you place on yourself. Until you gain self-assurance about your negotiating ability, don’t let your insecurities show.

Work Her Way Expert Lee Miller