Do women dislike negotiation?


Announcer: Welcome to Stuff Mom Never Told You from Howstuffworks.com.

Molly Edmonds: Hey there, and welcome to the podcast. This is Molly.

Cristen Conger: And I'm Cristen.

Molly Edmonds: Cristen, I thought maybe today we could start the podcast with a little dose of my personal pain from childhood, always a good way to start a podcast in my opinion.

Cristen Conger: Okay. Yeah, go for it. I love hearing your painful past stories.

Molly Edmonds: All right, here we go; here's one. This probably represents the most embarrassed I ever was as an adolescent.

Cristen Conger: Ever?

Molly Edmonds: Ever.

Cristen Conger: Wow, okay, shoot.

Molly Edmonds: Okay, so I'm 16, just got my driver's license. My dad's taking me to the used car lot to find a car. We find one we like, and we go into that little room that car salesmen take you into when they're trying to make the deal. I became mortified when my father started haggling because it just - I don't know, I just that the car salesman would get a bad impression of us, and he was being so forceful. I was just really upset by it that I actually went and hid in the bathroom instead of waiting for my deal to be made. I was just so embarrassed that my father negotiated that car price.

Cristen Conger: First of all Molly, I find it amazing that that is your most embarrassing story from childhood.

Molly Edmonds: It is. Well, I said adolescence, but yeah, I mean, I was freaked out that all of a sudden, we're getting in there, and my dad's yelling at some guy about numbers.

Cristen Conger: Yeah, negotiation is definitely an uncomfortable thing to have to do.

Molly Edmonds: Especially for women, I find.

Cristen Conger: Yeah. It sounds pretty stereotypical, like, oh, women don't like to negotiate. I don't like to negotiate. I totally fit that stereotype.

Molly Edmonds: Well, you're not the only one Cristen.

Cristen Conger: Oh, thank God.

Molly Edmonds: I mean, in addition to me, we've got a whole host of statistics we can go over about how women don't like to negotiate. I was sort of relieved to find that most women think about it the way I do. They see it as going to the dentist, basically. Men see negotiation as a wrestling match, a time to get down and dirty, and that's how my dad was. Like, when we got in the car to drive it off the lot, my dad was pumped. He had adrenaline going through him, he was happy with the deal he made, and he just explained to me, like, the guy expects it. That's what you're supposed to do.

Cristen Conger: Right. Whereas, if it were you driving that car off the lot, you probably would have been just -

Molly Edmonds: Shaking.

Cristen Conger: So relieved, like ripping a band-aid off or something.

Molly Edmonds: Right, just get through it - and I would have probably still been embarrassed about it, even if I had negotiated myself. Oh, gosh, he thinks I'm j ust an awful person.

Cristen Conger: Right. Women, sometimes, are socialized to not be pushy like that. Negotiation, I think, can feel just naturally uncomfortable because it goes against, maybe, the types of things we were raised with, the types of stereotypical behavior that women were and were not expected to do. Negotiation and haggling is a man's job.

Molly Edmonds: Right, and it seems impolite. If you were raised a good southern girl like me, that's not within your manners to just start haggling.

Cristen Conger: Right, and that kind of cultural factor could be one of the reasons why 20 percent of adult women say that they never negotiate at all, even though they know that they need to.

Molly Edmonds: Right. It may save you face for a few minutes, but it has very long-ranging financial implications in every aspect, whether it's buying a car, negotiating your car price, negotiating your first salary, it costs to not negotiate, basically.

Cristen Conger: There's a real world example that I think sums this up pretty well. There was one study in which men and women participants were told that if they came and participated, they would earn between $5.00 and $12.00. So at the end of the study when the women were leaving, the people who were conducting the study said, oh, here you go, here's your $5.00. Most women just took the $5.00. Whereas, most of the men, once they were handed $5.00 said, whoa, wait a second, you said that I could get up to $12.00. I would like $12.00, and they actually negotiated their way up to doubling, almost tripling that initial $5.00.

Molly Edmonds: Right. A little known fact of how I got Cristen to do this podcast was that I gave her $5.00, instead of $12.00.

Cristen Conger: Wait a second. Man.

Molly Edmonds: But here's the thing, I mean, that's probably what people did when they got their first job. Maybe they were told a range of salaries, and when they got the bottom, they just took it, whereas, men are more inclined to ask for more.

Cristen Conger: Right. Men who negotiate their jobs are usually able to increase their starting salaries by an average of 7.5 percent, or $4,000.00. That is nothing to sneeze at, $4,000.00 -

Molly Edmonds: Oh, no, $4,000.00, that's a down payment on something.

Cristen Conger: Right, and men are initiating these negotiations about four times as much as women. So you hear a lot about the gender pay gap; this is, kind of, what it made me think of. On average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women make about 80 percent of what men usually make for the same job. But one interesting study that kind of relates to all this is that men's starting salaries are usually about $4,000.00 higher than women's on average. If men were going in there and negotiating for that 7.4 percent more, or about $4,000.00, that could be one of the areas where we're kind of shooting ourselves in the foot in keeping that gap wide open.

Molly Edmonds: So basically, we start off behind, and then we can never catch up. We're shooting ourselves in the foot and never catching up, and to the tune of the fact that by the time we're 60, we're $500,000.00 behind the men in overall salary earnings. That sucks.

Cristen Conger: Yes, it does. So you know what, Molly? We gotta take back the power. We gotta learn how to negotiate. I want $500,000.00, and I want it now! Okay, I'm not gonna get it now, but let's learn about how negotiation works.

Molly Edmonds: Okay.

Cristen Conger: There are three parts of negotiation. First, you recognize the conflict, all right. You want something, say, all right, your dad was at a used car salesman, he wants a car, and he wants it for cheaper. There's the conflict. Then, you state your claims. Your dad, while you were hiding in the bathroom, was probably telling the used car salesman that he wanted the car for, let's say, $15,000.00 instead of $20,000.00. He was stating his claim. And then, once they started haggling, at some point they had to concede. They had to meet somewhere in the middle. So maybe instead of buying the $20,000.00 car for $15,000.00, he paid, oh, $17,000.00. So that, in a nutshell, is a negotiation.

Molly Edmonds: Right, but I was more worried about the people on the other si de of it, which was, I was worried that the seller wanted to make as much as possible, and I was worried that the seller wanted more money for the car. But what I was doing was sort of ignoring the fact where I could, just by being interested in the car, I could give him a benefit. He could sell a car that day, and maybe get a commission, maybe just meet a sales quota, and so that's, I think, a key point, is to realize that there can be benefits in the deal for everyone. You just gotta find them.

Cristen Conger: Right, and one of the first places that you should start before you even walk into that sales room and start haggling, is you gotta do your homework. You've got to know how much, let's say - back to the car. If you're buying a car, you have to know how much it is actually worth in whatever specific condition it's in so you can walk in there knowing that they're probably inflating the price somewhat, and you can have facts to back you up with justifying your claims.

Molly Edmonds: Exactly. The same thing if you're negotiating your salary. This one might be a little bit harder because you've gotta turn the lens on yourself. You've gotta know how much you are worth, so that means, before you even go in for a job interview, you've got to know what other people in this position are making, what kind of education background you're brining to this, what your skill sets are that are very defined and special to you because you have something to offer. When we go in for jobs, we often think, oh man, I hope I get hired; I need a job. But you have services that you are offering to them, and that's what you got to remember. It's still a two-way street, just like buying a car.

Cristen Conger: Exactly, and that's all part of strategizing your approach. A lot of times with negotiations there are two approaches you can take. You can take the more soft approach, which you would probably use in a salary negotiation situation where you don't want to anger your potential new boss by demanding to have some insanely high salary. So you're probably gonna want to work with him a little bit more, be a little gentler. But then, if you go to the car lot, you're probably gonna want to take more of a hard approach. You're gonna say, you know what, I'm only paying $15,000.00 for this car, and you can take it or leave it.

Molly Edmonds: Right, and I will say, since we do have women's concerns at our forefront Cristen, you don't want to be too soft with the boss though. Because there are studies that show that women probably take more of a soft approach than they need to and they back down, whereas when men negotiate with their future bosses, it's just business. They're able to separate out that idea that they might offend the boss and play hardball, and then go and have drinks with the boss afterwards. Whereas that's not something that women are as comfortable doing.

Cristen Conger: Now Molly, that sounds like a certain negotiation strategy that I've heard of called separating the people from the problem, and I think that that strategy is one of the No. 1 things, at least for me personally with negotiation, that I'd have to keep in mind.

Molly Edmonds: Right. It's not personal.

Cristen Conger: Right. Walking into negotiations, we might care a little bit too much about how the other person is going to perceive us, if we're going to come across as hard-nosed B-words who they're just going to badmouth once we leave. We need to get rid of all that. If we've done our homework and we have a strategy worked out, we need to separate what people are going to think about us from what we actually need to accomplish.

Molly Edmonds: What we need to do is think about what they want. Because if we get to the root of demands and not just think about positions that people hold, like boss and job applicant, buyer, seller, but if we get to what each person wants and how they can benefit from things, then you can sort of make your demands so that they seem reasonable. You say, well, I have all this special certification in X, so I think I should get X more dollars.

Cristen Conger: Um-hum, and if you approach it like that, you can actually enlarge the pie, if you will, that you're looking at. So Molly, let's also think about negotiation as a pie.

Molly Edmonds: All right, pizza pie.

Cristen Conger: It could be a pizza pie. I was thinking of a blueberry pie, but we can do a pizza pie.

Molly Edmonds: I suddenly got really excited about negotiation.

Cristen Conger: All right, so let's think of a negotiation as a pepperoni pizza for Molly's sake. I want three-quarters of it, but you don't want to give it to me.

Molly Edmonds: I only want to give you just a little bit.

Cristen Conger: You only want to give me one slice. But there are actually ways in negotiation that you can enlarge the size of that pie. You can have a pie and a calzone on the side.

Molly Edmonds: Oh, my goodness.

Cristen Conger: I know, and that's called inventing options for mutual gain. I really like this concept of negotiation because it allows you to think of as many options as possible so that both parties can walk away satisfied. So going back to salary negotiation, if you can't take as much of a hard-lined approach with demanding your $50,000.00 salary, maybe you would be more satisfied with, say, $40,000.00 and an extra week of vacation. You just expanded your pie.

Molly Edmonds: So it's like getting a salad with the pizza, bread sticks with the pizza.

Cristen Conger: Yes.

Molly Edmonds: Now I'm pretty distracted by the pizza, but I also think that despite how much I love pizza, you've still got to be objective about it at the end of the day. I'm not going to just settle for a pizza because they're giving me a personal pan pizza, even though they know I love pizza. At the end of the day, I'm gonna keep my emotions in check and be like, even though I love pizza, I'm not gonna settle for just this little amount of pizza if it's not enough for me.

Cristen Conger: Um-hum, you have to remember how much power that you hold as a consumer, as someone who has job talents, or whatever it is that you're negotiating for. You hold a lot of power when you walk into a negotiation situation as long as you do your homework.

Molly Edmonds: Right, so I guess the message here for all women who find negotiation a little bit scary is just to do your homework, keep the emotions out of it, and since that's all easier said than done, why don't we end on just a few more really scary statistics, Cristen.

Cristen Conger: Well, this one, if this does not convince you that you need to start negotiating, I really don't know what will because Molly, women who consistently negotiate their own salary earn at least 1 million more dollars in their careers than women who don't; a million dollars. Molly, do you know how many pizzas you can buy for a million dollars?

Molly Edmonds: That's a lot of pizza.

Cristen Conger: You can eat pizza every day.

Molly Edmonds: Well, I'm sold on negotiation. No more haggling for me. I mean, I will haggle now in the real world.

Cristen Conger: Oh, and by the way, I want $12.00 instead of $5.00 for this podcast.

Molly Edmonds: We'll see about that.

Cristen Conger: Let's negotiate.

Molly Edmonds: Let's go get pizza.

Cristen Conger: Well, if you want to learn more about negotiation, or other business topics, you can read all about that on Howstuffworks.com.

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