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Remember, in business, everthing is a negotation: your salary, your benefits, your budget, the size of your staff and your office, your travel, and ultimately all the things that empower you to do your job.

Failing to negotiate hard and well at each stage of your career will result in a gradual diminishing of your career. If you don't press hard at every step, eventually, over time, you will wind up on a lower rung of the career ladder.

Negotiating can be viewed as a system of building bridges and breaking down walls to come to a win-win agreement. Many women feel that there are so many disparities between themselves and their male colleagues, so many subtle inequities, power grabs, and slights to women, intentional or not, that every day should be framed as a negotiation, if one hopes to make any headway at all.

That is probably correct and a pretty good strategy for affecting change: to view change and your evolution into reaching your full potential within your company as a continuous, ongoing negotiation with the forces of status quo, a matter of exchanging and interchanging differing interests and value systems to try to "level the playing field" for yourself. To put it another way, in negotiating terms, you are about to embark on using "The Salami Technique."

What is "The Salami Technique" ? In a negotiation context, if you try to grab the other guy's whole salami, he will fight you to the death for it. On the other hand, if you set out to get it one slice at a time, it's not so hard, because each time he's giving up relatively little, sometimes so little he barely notices it. Example: You want the deal closed on Wednesday. For whatever reason, it is to the advantage of the other party to close later. The reason may be as simple as the fact that the deal is done, you are tied up, so the longer he delays the longer he gets to hold on to his money, thereby having both the deal and his money in hand. So, instead of agreeing to close on Wednesday, he says, no, let's make it Friday. We all know nothing ever gets done on Friday, and nothing ever gets done on Monday. And the next thing you know it's Christmas, and nothing ever gets done during Christmas. You get the idea. So that is the salami technique: taking something one piece at a time, in small increments not worth fighting over until the whole salami is gone, or you wake up to what's going on.

At work, you can use "The Salami Technique" to your advantage, negotiating a lot of small wins which can add up to a major change in your position within the company.

The first step is for women to view themselves not as worker who has the bad luck to be on the wrong end of "an unlevel playing field", but as individuals who can empower themselves to define their own role, who , by asserting themselves can seed change and display an example of personal integrity.

A good place to start to prepare for negotiation is how you present yourself. There is a tremendous gap in the communication styles of men and women, much of it to the man's advantage. When a man introduces himself, he will generally lead with his credentials: "Hello, I'm Joe Smith, Head of the Automotive Division, winner of last month's Most Valuable Employee award. " A woman, even if her title is CEO or Admiral, will generally introduce herself by saying "Hi, I'm Emily". Toot Your Own Horn, in a friendly way, is a lesson most women should learn. You can start your negotiations by stating how much you've added to your company's bottom line.

The second step is to identify what, precisely, you want from your organization and decide how much you're willing to give to get it, in terms of time and hard work. Then ask for it. You want a specific job? Go to your supervisor and ask what exact steps you need to do to qualify for it. Do you need to take a night course in a particular subject? You will take it. Do you need some time working in a different area to gain broader experience? You will do it. In other words, you will do what it takes to get where you want to go. This will bring you to the point where the ball is in their court. What is it that's holding you back?

This is where you need to make the implicit explicit. Women are generally held back by stereotypes, many of which are so silly, if brought to light, they immediately disappear. Examples: fear of women getting pregnant, even though they may be past child bearing years; a presumption that women won't travel even though the woman involved is perfectly willing to travel ; a "narrow band" of acceptable behavior where "leadership" is thought of along the lines of male norms. Many traits females excel in, such as teamwork and collaboration, are equally successful and perhaps more effective in contemporary organizations but discounted for the "warrior" theory of male leaders. It is important to draw your supervisor out about the company's exact thinking, because much of it is so easily contradicted and it may even surprise your manager that he has unconsciously accepted these stereotypes.

Working through this disparity in your expectations and the company's stereotypes is a form of negotiation which can have a win-win outcome for both of you. Remember to be prepared so you can be flexible. Persuasiveness , with diplomacy, makes for the best outcome, so have your points in order. Your supervisor probably has his vulnerabilities also, so remember the four main motivators: "Safety, Inclusion, Control, and Respect for the other side". In other words, convince, don't steamroller.

Use a trick which salesmen use :"be the mirror". Find similarities, in order to increase trust and expand your manager's comfort zone. Separate issues from positions and keep clarifying your company's intent. Often the intent is good, it just hasn't been perfectly realized yet, and it's up to you to make that explicit. Sometimes a manager recognizes your value and intends to move you up but has put you in a position where you feel there's no clear career path to where you want to go: point that out to him. And listen to his answer. The company may have a good reason which hasn't occurred to you, yet. If so, ask more about when you can expect to move ahead. If not, keep pressing your point. Finally, keep delivering benefits to your organization, so you will be building a career "bank account" that you can draw on in the future.

You may not get to where you want to go today, but it's important to remember, you can't start from where you want to be, you have to start from where you are. As the saying goes " How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." And that's how you can negotiate change using "The Salami Technique."


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