StartUp Negotiating!

Posted In: Technical Skills
Posted On: 9/5/2013

Recently, I attended a terrific event called the Startup Phenomenon on the University of Colorado campus. Although I shared a few words of wisdom myself, I was blown away by the keynote presenter and I’m eager to share a few of her valuable insights with you. As has been said, knowing oneself is a key to success in life…and also in business. Speaking for myself, even with thirty years of experience, Jane Knows that she is not so great at negotiating. But believe me, it’s a skill worth having and that’s why I am so happy to share the advice of a real expert on the subject! Margaret A. Neal is the Adams Distinguished Professor of Management at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Her specialty is negotiating and, wow, did her advice really hit home with me! To begin, if you find that negotiating for yourself is hard, you are not alone! In fact, Margaret shared some surprising statistics that women in general are better at negotiating for others than we are for ourselves. While there are lots of reasons for this, for now let’s focus on how we can do better versus why we aren’t great at it! To paraphrase two of Margaret’s big ideas on how we can improve our ability to negotiate:

Creating a win-win situation. 


Think of negotiation as COLLABORATION. At the end of a negotiation you want everyone to feel better off than when the negotiation started. No, really, it’s possible. You just have to have the right frame of mind. So stay focused that your goal is to create a win-win situation, not a “if I get what I want, someone else will be losing” outcome. How do you do that?


Focus on PROBLEM SOLVING when you negotiate. Now this is truly a big idea. Think about the situation of asking for a raise based on your performance to date. You walk into my office with a list of your accomplishments as a sales manager. Now from your perspective, you have done a great job and you deserve a raise—the list, right, it’s all there. But think of it from my perspective; I expected you to do those things as part of your job description. So, asking for a raise based on accomplishments I already expected of you isn’t a compelling reason for me to give you a pay increase. Now, let’s think about the situation in another way. This time when you come into my office you offer to take on more responsibility and use your list of accomplishments as proof that you are ready to do more. Now that is intriguing to me. You know I have an open position in a contiguous sales geography and stepping up to the plate is going to help solve a problem that I have. You solve my problem by providing interim support until I fill the position. I solve your problem by giving you a raise that recognizes your effort to date and the initiative you just showed! That is a win-win for sure! And this is just the beginning. These two points—powerful as they may be—barely scratch the surface of the terrific advice from this amazing expert. So I’d encourage you to hear Margaret yourself and get more specifics. A great place to start is and