Much Ado About Something: Negotiating Negotiation

It’s too bloody late and I should be in bed, but I won’t get to sleep with all this stuff in my head!

See how easy it is to rhyme after midnight.

So, just back (via dinner at the Millars) from a Girl Geek Scotland weekend on negotiation. Having experienced mixed success from past negotiations, I had very high hopes for this workshop. Since it’s late, I’ll save you the detail of the whole workshop and stick to my high and low lights.

The good stuff:


The women on these workshops. They really are brilliant and I can’t stress enough that these ladies are not only people I enjoy working with, but I already consider some of them good friends.


The framework: all girl geeks sign NDAs so we can disclose our ideas without worrying about being ripped off. And we can share personal experiences, which we know will be considered with tact and empathy (usually anyway).


The stories – I love the stories that get shared in these workshops, whether they’re from the facilitator or workshop attendees. Girl geeks are always interesting.

Reading-lists and stuff-to-explore

Christina (negotiation workshop facilitator) briefly referenced some material by a chap called Alan Weiss, where he proposes thinking about value creation over simplistic economic measures such as hourly and daily rates. I need to look into this, but I think the gist was about focusing on the value you’re creating, rather than simply charging for time. He has a few videos on YouTube, but they’ll have to wait.

Forget the four Ps, think the three Ps

Preparation, preparation, preparation (the key to a successful negotiation)

Even when you think you’re listening, listen.

Remembering that the most important thing in a negotiation situation is not to sell your cause/product/service, but to really listen on how and where you can really add value to someone/something

A breath of fresh air: sometimes fire-breathing, but fresh fire-breathing

Break out of your usual network every now and then. Share your challenges with new people. Role play these situations out with new folk; they’ll often spot something you’ve missed.

The less good stuff:

Here comes the science. Wait, hang on a goddamn minute!

We spent A LOT of time talking about our “negotiation styles”, but I didn’t rate the science on this particular workshop. I don’t need to focus on my psychometric profile and orientation. I’ve analysed this to death in previous tests and workshops.

Go easy on the fluff

A little less conversation and a little more action. Please.

Preparation, preparation, preparation

Understand the audience. I’m not sure the facilitators had actually spoken to each other about the content of previous workshops.

Experience will always be experience, it may not always be a truth.

Christina lost me when she’s stressed never to work with friends. I don’t think this should be a business truth and after chatting with some of the other ladies on the workshop, I don’t think I’m alone in challenging Christina’s recommendation here. What we may agree on is that relationships that are both personal and professional in nature should be handled with care.

Too many people abuse NLP

I also didn’t rate the visualisation technique we did in the “Circle of Excellence”. I’d experienced a similar workshop on an NLP diploma course ten years ago and just found this frankly rather fluffy.

I’m a lady you know

OK, I’ve found it difficult to negotiate with some guys in the past, but I’d actually like to feel confident in how to tackle alpha males and stressing that whilst I admit this is a controversial area, we spent way too long discussing male stereotypes of men playing golf and discussing work in the pub. Firstly I hate this because it represents a particular type of business male, but not all men and secondly I want some proper rules on how I can succeed by behaving as a woman, not how I can succeed by behaving like a man.

I’d like some guys in my circle of excellence, just invite only

It’s monumentally depressing that having been brought up to feel equal, I have to contemplate manipulating men through a variety of techniques that I would detest if I knew men were applying to me. I’m in two minds as to whether this approach is necessary to succeed in business and in any case it was directly contradicted by the suggestion that we should also just “be ourselves”. Isn’t the whole point of the workshop an indication that this doesn’t always work?

This negotiation weekend was the final Girl Geek Scotland workshop for 2010. A bunch of us are exploring some mini informal workshops over the next few weeks, mainly covering a range of specific tech topics such as wire-framing and prototyping, SEO, digital marketing and social media. I’d like to invite some guys who I know may be interested in these topics. I’d like to invite them because they are genuinely great, smart guys, but also because I work in a mixed environment and am likely to always do so. I totally acknowledge the need for more support for women in tech/IT/interdisciplinary areas, but for me, Girl Geeks is not an anti-men club. At some point I’d like to share and validate some of this insight with guys. Hand-picked guys, but a male perspective would be appreciated, not because I need male validation, but because I seek balance.

I’ll upload pics later in the week, but just needed to get this post out, whilst the words were still hot in my head.