The Ten Commandments for Negotiating Women

10 Commandments (2).png

1. Thou Shalt Recognize the Opportunity to Negotiate Something for Thine Own.

Whenever you have a decision to make with another person – going golfing or the movies, setting a fee, or buying a piece of bruised fruit at a farmers’ market – that’s an opportunity to ask for something more or different. That’s an opportunity to negotiate.

2. Thou Shalt Know Thy Market Value.

If you’re like most women, you underestimate your market value by a third. So, do your research (at or Characterize your job using male job descriptors because men make more money. You’re a consultant (male) not a coach (female).

3. Thou Shalt Research Your Bargaining Partner.

Once you learn your market value you must learn what your bargaining partner wishes to accomplish, to whom she must answer, what interests she must satisfy and what she most fears and desires.

4. Thou Shalt Start with Small Talk.

Negotiators who begin their bargaining session with small talk are four times more likely to close a deal. It creates trust and leads to problem-solving rather than table pounding and ultimatums. You're good at small talk. Heck, you're great at it. Play to your strengths.

5. Thou Shalt Ask Thine Bargaining Partner Open-Ended Questions.

To learn that which your own research cannot ascertain, ask open-ended, diagnostic questions. Two can make a better deal for both than trying to serve your own needs alone.

6. Thou Shalt Offer Benefits Before Making Thine Ask.

When we ask powerfully for our own interests to be served, men and women alike will initially retaliate because self-serving crosses gender role boundaries. Open the conversation with the benefit you’re able to bestow on your bargaining partner before you ask for reciprocity. Say, my proposal will benefit not only myself but also our company, our community, our workgroup, or my family. Frame your ask as giving more than you are receiving and you will not upset your negotiation partner’s expectation that you’ll be generous rather than self-seeking.

7. Thou Shalt Fearlessly Praise Thine Own Work.

If you don't, who will?

8. Thou Shalt Never Undercut Thyself Before Thy Bargaining Partner Can Respond.

Don’t say, I charge $500 but I’ll take $250. If your market value is $500, say it loud and say it proud. There’s a better than 50% chance your bargaining partner will simply say ok. If not, let him ask for the better deal.

9. Thou Shalt Name Thine Own Concessions and Beseech Thine Bargaining Partner to Reciprocate.

Decades of research have proven that the most effective strategy for getting what you want is to open cooperatively (Let’s find a way for both of us to get what we want); retaliate proportionally if your bargaining partner undermines you (I’m disappointed with your response); and, return quickly to cooperation when your bargaining partner does (I’m glad you’ve decided to help both of us work this out).

If you cooperate with someone who is not cooperating with you, you will enter into a cycle of victimization. If you fail to forgive and return to cooperation, you will enter into a cycle of escalated conflict.

10. Thou Shalt Not Split the Baby.

As the story of the wise King Solomon teaches us. Offering to split the baby demonstrates indifference to the welfare of the value being bargained for, besmirching thine honor. It has oft been said – indeed it has been written – that any yutz with ears can divide by two.

11. (The Bonus Commandment) Thou Shalt Close. 

Even if you have not reached a complete agreement with your bargaining partner, affirming that which has been agreed upon, scheduling a time and date to return to the bargaining table, and assuring your bargaining partner that the deal has so many working parts that a deal benefiting both of you will certainly be reached.

This is the third mashup of this post, written by Victoria Pynchon. The first two versions can be found here and here.