The Most Important Factor in Winning a Negotiation

In November, I presented a keynote address on Leadership to the Women In Business Club at the University of Oklahoma, Price College of Business. The annual conference also offered panel discussions for the participants and I contributed to one on Asking for What You Want. My fellow panelists were financial professionals, an NBA executive, and the leader of a not-for-profit organization. Ironically, one of the panelist’s new hires was in the audience for our discussion. When I offered the soon-to-be-graduate advice, I asked the panelist to cover her ears so she wouldn’t hear the tricks her new hire may use on her.

To the group at large, one of the best suggestions I could offer was to be “relentlessly pleasant”. Linda Babcock, author of Women Don’t Ask and, an endorser for Learn, Work, Lead: Things Your Mentor Won’t Tell You , writes in her book that, contrary to the way Hollywood portrays negotiations, getting ahead in those type of discussions, for all, but especially for women, requires developing an affinity with your negotiating counterpart. You will gain more if you are likeable.

Being relentlessly pleasant is a simple tool, but one that can help you succeed in your negotiations. More importantly, it may incent you to enter into a negotiation if you realize you don’t have to play hard ball, to get what you want.