Last week was our first week back on campus after a fabulous summer break. Already, we’ve had the privilege of attending a two and a half day crash course on negotiations with Professor Sameh Abadir. Admittedly, a haze of summer memories was taking up much of my headspace. Therefore, my expectation of this course was to emerge with a solid strategy for negotiating my next employment package. But what unfolded was so much more valuable.
Negotiating for business… and life
Without spoiling the fun for future IMD MBA candidates, we were immediately drawn in to a world of colourful stories and case studies.
A few examples
- team dynamics in the special forces division of the army
- international diplomacy in action
- a community service programme for delinquent children
Of course, we came away with a ‘playbook’ of sorts to assist us in executing successful negotiations in our careers as future global leaders. Furthermore, this was of course supported by cutting-edge behavioural theory. However, we also gained more holistic insights.
I would never have expected that one of the lessons of successful negotiations would be to ‘be kind’. Another was to exercise humility. But when I think about the most successful negotiations from my own life, they were all based on foundations of trust. It was these that fostered the desire for mutual cooperation rather than trying to ‘one-up’ the other. Even my most successful business negotiations have exhibited these characteristics.
A feminine insight
On the other hand, as a woman facing a potentially male-dominated professional landscape, the importance of knowing and being convicted of my ‘target terms’ in any negotiation is becoming abundantly clear. I’ve also begun to grasp the importance of taking a global view during negotiation.
I’m sure many readers remember the statistic originally presented by Hewlett Packard. This stated that men apply for the a job if they meet 60% of the qualifications, while women only apply if they meet 100% of them. I tend to agree with Tara Sophia Mohr (HBR, 2014), that this is not necessarily an indication of a lack of self-confidence in women. Instead, it is more likely a reflection of a socially-conditioned tendency of women to diligently follow ‘what appear to be the rules’ compared to men.
The lesson for me is to look beyond what is printed on a job description, the client brief or even the lease agreement to ensure I am playing the game in the best way for myself and for everyone. Professor Abadir reminded us that,
In business and in life, we never get what we are not ready to ask for.
I’m feeling ready to play, and ready to ask.