Happy New Year to my readers. It has been a busy few months of travel, so I am getting back to my posts in the run-up to the publication of my third book. This week we will look at asking or simply “the ask.” Many negotiations fail because people don’t, or incorrectly ask questions as they enter the transaction with assumptions and expectations. If an opener seeks askew, or if an illogical situation changes, negotiators may forget to simply ask.
Dr.Linda Babcock, a professor at Carnegie-Mellon, has been researching the gender-based negotiation dynamic for over twenty years. While other researchers tend to focus on the nature versus nurture in gender roles in our society, Dr. Babcock looks at the statistics of the “Ask” rate. The advice Dr. Babcock has since emphasized, is for females simply to increase their ask rate to match those of males, because statistically, males simply ask more.
“The Ask” is not as simple as it may appear. If it is a price, salary, discount or concession is at issue, asks that are demanding may show inexperience, ignorance of market realities, insult, greed, naiveté or unprofessionalism; asks that are subdued may indicate you lack confidence or are negotiating against yourself. One must know the reasonable realm of possibilities, leave the Tripple Crown asks to fiction.
So when you are looking to ask, do not think you have to put on what I call the “deal mask” and think there is some mind-trick to this. Find your center – what is important to you – personalize your request. Communicate clearly what you do and do not want; what you can and cannot do. Be in the moment on the one hand, but have a plan to handle “what ifs”. For example, you may say, “I work best with objective performance goals that are either given to me or ones I am asked to create; I do less well in process performance criteria that may or may not match corporate goals. Is your work environment clear about performance expectations, or is this a job looking for me to develop performance criteria that work to meet corporate goals?” This is why your “ask” is based on the performance and required for success.
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