Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Highlights of SLA 2009: Painless Negotiation

It's no secret that Mary Ellen Bates is a must-see speaker for me - it's impossible to go to one of her presentations and not come out of it feeling energized and excited about our profession. This year I opted to go to one of her more general sessions, entitled Painless (no, really!) Negotiating.

Bates described how she was one ultra-averse to negotiating, but told us to remember that "negotiation is a moment of discomfort to get a larger payoff". Here's a quick summary of her tips:
  • Keep an internal locus of control - do not allow the external world to control you
  • First ID your best outcome (not how you will get there)
  • ID the other person's best outcome
  • Look at all the alternatives.
  • Negotiate from a place of interest, not position
  • Shift from worst-case to best-case thinking
  • Always make a high first offer. If you offer what you'll settle for, you've got nowhere to go but down
  • You don't have to be dissatisfied to ask for more
  • It's business, not personal
Bates reminded us that in even in a situation that you see as have only two options, "there's yes, and there's no. And then there's apples" - meaning, there may be things you haven't thought of, or that only the other person can offer.

A final, but very important, point: language is important. As with all communication, "I" statements are key. And when you're negotiating, say "I want". Don't say things like "I deserve" (because "we all deserve more than we get") or even "I would like". These are conversation stoppers and won't get you very far.

For anyone in the library field, there are many instances where good negotiating skills come in handy. Salary and benefits discussions and vendor contract negotiations come to mind immediately, but if Bates is right when she says "everything is negotiable", then those are just the tip of the iceberg. Virtually every aspect of life can be improved with solid and confident negotiation skills.

Slides for Painless (no really!) Negotiation along with Bates' other two presentations are available at her website.

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Blogger Mary Ellen Bates said...

Thank you for your kind words! I had more fun than is legal in some states, developing that presentation.

3:11 PM  

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