Mara Olekalns, Ruchi Sinha and Carol T. Kulik of the University of South Australia wrote a study examining how women deal with everyday negotiations, from asking for raises to taking on new responsibility, to even adjusting to a work schedule.
The study, which interviewed 84 women across multiple professional fields, with most of who had undergraduate degrees. With ages ranging from 29 to 64 years, researchers identified three common negotiation scenarios beyond pay and promotion that were prevalent amongst respondents: work resources, professional development, and work-life balance.
Work resources centered around finding ways to make room for a new position inside the company, such as restricting a team or changing reporting lines, according to the study.
Professional development focused on bettering yourself as an employee, like attending conferences that’ll further your education or attending meetings with higher executives to gain additional knowledge.
Work-life balance was about adjusting to working like restructuring a position to fit someone’s needs or returning to work after maternity leave, according to the study.
With women experienced in negotiations, researchers asked respondents about their biggest challenges in these moments and what type of advice they’d give other women before entering a negotiation scenario. Female respondents identified three challenges during negotiations as balancing self-advocacy, managing emotions, and overcoming interpersonal resistance.
Balancing self-advocacy and communality
Women who participated in the study admitted to being hesitant during negotiations in a conversation around career advancement because they were unwilling to speak up for themselves, which correlates with most simply lacking the confidence to ask due to them finding it challenging.
Overcoming this hurdle requires some balancing, according to respondents. While studies have shown being more warm and concerned than others in times of negotiation benefits, it can also hurt the employee. Those about to enter negotiations are advised to find a healthy balance between the two by showing an understanding of the other person’s needs before becoming more forthcoming with what you hope to achieve.
Manage emotions — especially difficult ones
Whenever you step into negotiations, it’s important to distance your head and your heart.
Respondents from the study said they were challenged to contain “frustration, anger, and hurt” during negotiation conversations. Finding a way to separate yourself from emotions can make you more effective, according to the study.
Harnessing stress and emotions can help too. Respondents even said managing expectations, like becoming less attached to a certain outcome, helped them. And whatever happens, don’t let the emotions felt during negotiations leak out of the room.
Overcoming interpersonal resistance
Managers can throw curveballs to throw you off before and during negotiations. Respondents said some missed schedule meetings to even behaving volatile to create an unease during negotiations.
The way to skirt past these distractors to build grit, according to the study. Have confidence in yourself to find ways around the obstacles and resistance.
The study was published in The Harvard Business Review.