One feels vindicated by recent articles about how to negotiate a raise or a promotion. One has often warned people against the lean in approach. One does not believe that men ought to be confrontational and direct in negotiations and one does not believe that women should imagine that when men earn more the reason must be that they engage in more macho posturing.
One understands that the promoter of leaning in did not really mean to say that women should be more confrontational, but, truth be told, the concept of leaning in means being more assertive, more confrontational, more direct… and getting in your boss’s face. Leaning in is posturing.
Sheryl Sandberg knows how to negotiate, but she evidently did not understand the effect of the wording of a concept. The alternative to leaning in is not leaning back. It is: standing tall.
To be fair and balanced, one remarks that a certain politician, a self-proclaimed master of the art of the deal also gives the impression that a good negotiator is confrontational and direct. He was probably misstating his position, but the example he set was just as wrong as the concept that Sandberg coined.
Anyway, the Mental Floss blog offers some tried and true negotiation techniques. It explains that, somehow or other, people have gotten the impression that negotiation should be confrontational. Obviously, this is wrong, and one needs to reread Roger Fisher and William Uhry’s text: Getting to Yes.
Negotiation is not a blood sport. It involves cooperation, even when it is competitive. If you are negotiating a raise you should be able to show what you have contributed to the enterprise. Sandberg herself has recommended this, but it has gotten lost in the din about leaning in. By showing what you have contributed you are showing yourself to be a team player, someone who has worked for the good of the company. Such a presentation makes it far easier for your boss to give you a raise.
One adds that when asking for a raise or a promotion, do not make a demand or make a threat. You should always leave your boss with the impression that he has the last word, not that he is caving in to pressure.
To negotiate effectively, you ought to engage in some small talk, some schmoozing… in order to make a human connection. Various authors recommend that you expose a small, trivial piece of personal information, thus making yourself appear more human and less robotic. It also shows that you are reaching out to the other person, offering an open hand of friendship. As long as you do not extend this to oversharing, this is good advice.
In a competitive negotiation both parties will need to feel that they have gotten a good deal for their side. Recent research—don’t you just love research—tells us that sharing food helps create the right atmosphere.
Mental Floss explains:
"In more competitive negotiations, people want to have the best possible deal for themselves, and typically, they see their counterpart as having adversarial or opposing motives," doctoral student and study co-author Peter Belmi told the Stanford Business website Insights. "In cooperative negotiations, typically people are more concerned about reaching an agreement for all parties involved."
If you're in a competitive situation, say a negotiation to end a legal dispute, having food available can help ease the tension. "What we found is that when people were negotiating in a competitive situation, sharing the food—and by that we mean sharing, not just eating—they created significantly more value," Belmi said. The social ritual of eating offset the competitive tone of the negotiation, allowing subjects to pay more attention to each other and look for opportunities to create more value in the negotiation.
One might say that one should set out a bowl of chips and dip, but one would rather think of this in terms of communal eating rituals, of the sort that occur in some restaurants where people share dishes.
As for the self-assertiveness, one emphasizes that when you are negotiating a raise or a promotion or when you are trying to be hired, you should be able to let your work, your production, your success even your resume speak for you. If you feel that you have to sell yourself—assertively and aggressively-- you are probably trying to compensate for weak performance.