My career started as a psychology intern in a mental hospital. I was and am still fascinated by the human mind… why do people do the things they do? How can we understand them? Influence them? Motivate them? I only lasted a few years in that difficult environment and decided to pursue a PhD in organisational behaviour, which I saw as a way to practice psychology with nonclinical populations. I had a fantastic mentor, Prof. Jeanne Brett, who convinced me to study negotiation and conflict management with her. I took my first academic position in Hong Kong where I did teaching, research and consulting across Asia-Pacific. I moved to Australia 18 years ago. I’ve been a faculty member at the Australian Graduate School of Management and the Melbourne Business School, delivering programs to MBA’s, EMBA’s and executives on a wide range of topics related to leadership. Teaching energises me.
Three years ago I became the Director of Leadership for the Monash Business School at Monash University to help them build a new business in Leadership and Executive Education. And somehow in that time I have also founded a start-up company called Leda. When I’m not working, which isn’t often, I love to be doing something active in nature, whether paddling one of my outrigger canoes or running on a trail somewhere in the mountains.
There are so many important situations in women’s lives where negotiation skills are critical, ranging from negotiating salaries to negotiating home responsibilities, of which women currently do the lion’s share. Research shows three important differences in the way men and women negotiate:
1. Women don’t ask.
They expect things to be fair, and wait for good work to be noticed and rewarded. They don’t ask for raises, promotions, better jobs, recognition for good work, or for more help at home. Men are 8x more likely to negotiate a job offer than women. That means a woman who negotiates her salary will earn over $1 million more by the time she retires than a woman who accepts what she’s offered.
What can you do? Believe you deserve it. Practice asking for things. Learn negotiation skills to increase your confidence. Change your mindset… opportunities do not always knock, you need to create your own. Don’t think of negotiations as a competition… frame them as a way to create value for yourself and the other party.
2. Women set less ambitious goals, and give in faster.
Women are satisfied with and expect less, so they don’t seek more. Women are used to working without pay.
What can you do? Prepare, prepare, prepare. Use objective data in setting your goals and get input from others. A good trick is to pretend you are not negotiating for yourself, but are negotiating for someone else! Don’t make concessions immediately. Wait. Ask a question instead of giving in.
3. Women suffer a backlash when they are direct and assertive.
The same behaviour exhibited by women and men is perceived differently because of gender role expectations that are pervasive and unconscious. We call this the double bind. When men behave in a direct, assertive way, they are perceived as go-getters. Leaders. When women behave this way, they are aggressive and unlikable.
What can you do? A softer style can improve your chances for success. That doesn’t mean be concessionary. Be “relentlessly pleasant”. Frame your requests as things that will benefit the team, organisation or your client. Refer to joint goals. Illustrate you are a team player. Smile.
Do believe you can learn how to manage your finances, and do it well. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist… all you need is to invest some time and energy. Managing your money is a learn-able skill.
Do find ways to save. Always have money for a rainy day. There are always things you can do to save little bits here and there, like packing your lunch to take to work, mixing in a glass of water when you are out for drinks, going to the cheap movie night, or delaying your haircut by another 10 days. It adds up and makes a difference!
Do set up a separate account for yourself that nobody else can access. Regardless of how comfortable you feel about your current situation, having an independent, separate stash has come in handy for women more times than they can count.
Don’t turn over control of your money to anyone else. While it takes time and effort to manage your finances and make good decisions, not up-skilling yourself is a more dangerous option.
Don’t get in the destructive cycle of emotional spending. It is easy to use buying things as a response to feeling frustrated, unhappy or trapped. Don’t go shopping, go for a walk or run instead!
Don’t believe someone who says they can make you a ton of money with some complex investment strategy. The reality is that investing yourself in simple index funds and leaving them alone for a decade has a better financial outcome than an investment manager trying to predict a market that is complex and uncertain. Few of them can consistently outperform the market over time.