Book Origins and the Ongoing Journey

From Women Writers, Women’s Books:

New Story, New Power: A Woman’s Guide to Negotiation, took a few years to research and write, but it was a lifetime in the making. I have been working in the area of negotiation for more than 30 years, with its origins in my experience in intercultural communications. I lived and worked in Japan for 13 years, and being an independent, New York woman, meeting this very different culture head on was a rude awakening. Those encounters naturally led to my interest in cross-cultural conflict, partly from my own personal experiences and partly from observing what was around me. I put gender in the classification of being a culture.

Cultures socialize those born into them about how to be in that world. We are socialized to be a certain way, with a particular set of values and beliefs, habits, and ways of thinking and behaving that create the stories by which we live. We have our family stories that we carry and we have our own personal stories that guide us over time. Some of these stories are generative and lead us to where we want to be and others get in the way of us progressing. I was curious to know more about why some women carried stories that helped them at the negotiating table, while others carried stories that inhibited them, caused them stress, and got in the way of being effective negotiators. I wondered about the specific origins of these stories and how they influenced women negotiating?

As a scholar-practitioner, a large part of my world is in the academy and there is an orientation to grounding what I have to say in evidence-based research. I support this in the world of practice, as well: the difference is in how we gather data, what we are looking for, and how we use what we find. I interviewed hundreds of women, to find out more about they bring the stories they carry and by which they live to the negotiation table: women from across industries, with one study being solely focused on women in the STEM professions; women who were junior in their career, with five or less years of experience; mid-career women with 10-15 years of experience; and women who had more than 25 years of experience.

The findings from these studies matched what I was seeing in my coaching sessions with women and in the workshops I conducted on negotiation, leadership, and communication. Some of the findings showed that women carry stories from when they were very young to present times and these stories influenced how they prepared for and conducted themselves during their negotiations. I became curious about why some stories stuck with them more than others and how they manifested in their particular behaviors at the negotiating table, in their everyday interactions, and in their career advancement.

I also wanted to explore beyond the workplace and see how these stories appeared in their families, in their interpersonal dynamics with friends and romantic partners, in their everyday interactions. For me, research and practice inform one another, so that what I discover in research I apply in practice, and what I see showing up in practice I explore through research.

And I am certainly not immune to these same stories! I often say that I was born over confident and I have been managing it ever since. I grew up hearing stories about how I could be anything I wanted to be and I took those stories to heart. However, there were also stories of not being good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, and so on, that dampened the confidence-building stories. Even while writing this book, every now and then I would stop and question myself about whether I had the knowledge, experience, and credentials to be writing it. Then I would take a step back, fascinated that I was experiencing the same things I was writing about. Our narratives are so strong!

That meta-awareness amused me and helped me recalibrate. I reviewed the sources of the information I gathered from hundreds of women, many research studies, my own observations, and reassured myself I could and should continue. I was sharing with others what a collective of women find useful. Sharing this information and having otters learn, practice, and make it their own is the value. It builds confidence, while developing negotiation skills.

Link to the rest at Women Writers, Women’s Books

The word negotiation is derived from two Latin terms, negare otium; they translate literally as “to deny leisure.” In French and Spanish, “deny leisure” becomes “business.” Yet, while the word is Latin-derived, the behavior predates that culture by roughly 200,000 years, dating back to ever since Homo sapiens developed as a species.

Going Forward to the Past: A Brief History of Negotiation

PG first became interested in negotiation as a field of study about 7-8 years into his legal career. He stumbled across a publication from something called The Harvard Negotiation Project, which included both the law school and the business school. He read severa; papers the Project had published and was very intrigued.

Many lawyers and business people felt negotiation was a talent which an individual did or didn’t possess. Among those who possessed a talent for negotiation, some were better than others.

The Harvard Project (now a well-established department, primarily in the Law and Business Schools, but stretching into other domains as well) was one of the earlier attempts to study the way that individuals negotiated with each other.

Some accepted techniques included putting forward a proposal for an agreement and sticking to it regardless of how the other party to the negotiation responded. This was often accompanied by a tough-guy persona that basically communicated, “My way or no way.”

While elements of this approach could be useful, the negotiation researchers found that this approach lead to quite a number of failed negotiations with neither party agreeind. In legal terms, this approach was likely to end with, “Let the judge decide.”

Other approaches involved being so anxious to reach an agreement that one side of a negotiation conceded a lot more than would have been necessary to come to an agreement – paying more money than necessary, accepting less money than the other side was willing to offer, etc., etc.

Some styles of negotiation involved hiding what concessions one party was willing to make vs. making concessions so quickly that the other side thought that there would be many more concessions available if they just kept saying no.

One of the lessons from the studies was that planning ahead for a negotiation tended to make a negotiations more successful for both parties. Another lesson was that preparing for not being able to come to an agreement and what alternative paths might be available.

The acronym was BATNA – Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement.

If a party had a good idea for a path that would allow it to meet at least some of its important goals if the contract negotiation didn’t work out because the other side wanted more than the party was willing to give.

In the author/publisher world, an example of BATNA for an author is to self-publish her/his book instead of agreeing to a traditional publishing agreement which involved paying a literary agent 15% of all money the publisher paid in royalties.

1 thought on “Book Origins and the Ongoing Journey”

  1. Never forgot there’s a cultural side to how to negotiate. In other words, what works in NYC won’t work in Shenzhen.

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