Ask For It: The Art of Negotiation

Ask For It: The Art of Negotiation

When is the last time you negotiated for something important to you? Yesterday? 6 months? A year? Never tried it? Wherever you are at on the negotiation experience scale is perfect. This purpose of this #Passion2Action episode is to inspire you to negotiate for things that matter to you and to strengthen your negotiation skills.

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Let’s break it down.

What is negotiation and why is it important?
Negotiation is a method to settle differences to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome. You can look at negotiation as a process where compromise or agreement is reached in the hopes of avoiding an argument.

When you can use negotiation?
Most people think negotiation is only for your money situations like your salary, but you can negotiate anything at anytime. Some example are making a payment, exchanging a product, your work hours, gym memberships, medical bills, whose turn it is to wash the dishes… Check out this MUSE article for more ideas. 

In order to master negotiation it is a matter of knowing your worth + supporting your goals with that as your reference. Anything is possible. There are no strict rules for how life works. There are always windows of opportunity that people can walk through. There are always exceptions made… you just have to ask! 

Why women should negotiate:

Linda Babcock, author of Women Don’t Ask and Professor of Economics at Carnegie Mellon University, who is a researcher in the field of negotiation, started looking into what was known about gender issues related to negotiation. She found that all the studies that had been done to date looked at differences in HOW men and women negotiated and NOT who was negotiating nor WHAT motivated someone to negotiate. Linda started seeing a pattern and thought back to her own experiences.

Experience #1: When she was serving as the Director of the PhD program for Hinds College at Carnegie Mellon University, a group of female teaching assistants came to her and were very angry. They wanted to know why most of the male teaching assistants in the college were teaching their own courses while the female teaching assistants were all serving as assistants to other professors. Linda didn’t know but she told them that she would find out. She went to the administrator who made the teaching assignments (who happened to be her husband and was very candid about answering her question) and asked. He told her that he would give a course to anyone who came with a good idea, a clear outline of what they wanted to teach and why it was needed and a reasonable budget. He said the men asked, the women didn’t ask.

Experience #2: A female graduate student came and asked her why she (Linda) had allowed two men to march in the spring graduation even though they wouldn’t actually defend their dissertations until August. The female grad student said “I would have liked to march in the spring too, but I didn’t know you could.” Linda said she had to tell her, “Well, the men asked if they could march and I could make that happen so I did.”

Experience #3: A different female graduate student came and complained that Linda had provided funds to a male graduate student to attend a major public policy conference but hadn’t provided the same funding to her. Linda again had to say, “Well, he asked and you didn’t. I see my job as helping make possible opportunities for students and I could do this so I did.

Here is what she discovered from her research:

  • Men initiate negotiations 4X’s more often than women.
  • That only 7% of women graduating from Hinds College at Carnegie Mellon reported that they negotiated their first job offer while 58% of the men did. 
  • When asked to give words and metaphors that they felt described the negotiation process, women chose words like “scary,” “intimidating,” and equated negotiation with “going to the dentist.” On the other hand, men chose words like “fun,” “winning a ball game,” “a wrestling match.”
  • On average, women reported that it had been about 18 months before when they had been involved in a negotiation and the types of negotiations they reported were – buying a car or agreeing on the buying or selling price of a house- activities in which negotiations are typically expected.
  • Men, on the other hand, reported that their last negotiation had been within the past week and had involved more everyday activities- asking a colleague to support a pet project of theirs in return for the negotiator’s support of a project of the colleague’s, getting a neighbor to help with a backyard project in return for a case of beer, or negotiating with a spouse to determine who would pick up a child from soccer practice.
  • Men saw negotiation as an everyday tool to be used to make their lives easier and to help them get things that they wanted, indeed, men saw it as a fun, perhaps even entertaining activity, or as a chance to prove their superiority.
  • Women had an entirely different outlook – they saw negotiation as something to be dreaded, something to be used in their own lives only under very structured circumstances.

So…. Why don’t women (and young professionals) who are students or early in their career negotiate for what they know they deserve?! 

Many are unsure of their worth. They are afraid that asking for too much might threaten a relationship. They fear that the people around them will react badly. They are less optimistic than men about what might be available. They are less comfortable than men with risk taking.They are less confident in their ability to negotiate.

It’s time to turn the corner and talk about how we can break through this! Let’s start asking! 


The Do’s & Don’t of Negotiation


  • Be afraid to ask for what you want and you know your deserve.
  • Wing it! – Be Prepared.
  • Have a one track mind. – You must have a variety of responses to push the negotiation in your favor
  • Talk at them. – Negotiating is a discussion.
  • Be demanding or aggressive. – Stay true to your goals.


  • Make a list of what you want from the negotiation and your reasons to be clear.
  • Understand your goals and theirs. (This Harvard Business Review article is a a great recourse!)
  • Study your counterpart’s motivations, limitations, and goals. 
  • Really listen to them & ask questions.
  • Remember your worth.


Read more #Passion2Action on The College Juice!