RANCHO PALOS VERDES, CALIFORNIA — “When women hear the word 'no,' they hear 'no.' Men hear the word 'no,' and what they hear is, 'not right now,'" Dr. Victoria Medvec, founder and executive director, Center for Executive Women, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, told more than 300 professionals at NEW Executive Leaders Forum, July 27, 2016.
Medvec, whose work includes teaching negotiation skills to senior-level executives and advising CEOs on critical decisions, said she has not always negotiated effectively on a personal level. When a male colleague received greater resources for equivalent work, Medvec realized that "male research professors were actively negotiating. Women researchers weren't negotiating anything."
"[Women] negotiate on behalf of family and children and for others — but oddly, we don't negotiate for ourselves," Medvec said during "Power Negotiating: Get What You Deserve." "Everything, absolutely everything, is negotiable."
While women often see promotions as a reward, men see these opportunities as a career path, she said.
Seek opportunity or keep gender disparity alive, Medvec warned. "If you're not asking, not only do men perceive that you don’t want it; they perceive that all women don't want it."
"Women think they will be given things when they deserve them," Medvec said. "Modesty is not serving us well."
To the female professional who says, "I don't want to take a job where I might fail," Medvec warns against making a hasty decision. "We have a voice in our head that says, 'You're not qualified, you can't do it. You're in prep mode, but not going for it mode.
"Women are always discounting our abilities, talking about what we don't know, seeing the weakness and not the strength, and that sets limits for ourselves."
The whole package
Women have to be ambitious in what they ask for, Medvec advised, and that includes negotiating at the "package level."
Presenting options during negotiating makes you appear more flexible — and provides an assumptive close. "Instead of saying, 'I need to meet with you, and it needs to be now,' think about saying, 'I need to meet with you. What works for you? Monday at 2? Tuesday at 8? Friday…?' That assumptiveness gives you a starting point advantage."
Know what message you want to deliver in every negotiation, Medvec advised, "Ask yourself, 'What's the story I want to tell?' And think about the structure – the multiple options I can use to tell that story."
Give yourself room to vary, maneuver and concede to get what you truly deserve. "People pay attention to what is shifting and moving," she said, "not what is fixed and constant."