Just Ask - Negotiations and Conflict Management

As part of the Simmons MBA program, I recently completed the Negotiation and Conflict Management (GSM 470) class taught by Dr. Paula Gutlove. We learned that women tend to have difficulty asking for something, especially if that something is for themselves. Whether it is asking for a pay increase, asking for help, or asking for a simple introduction to a colleague, we have a difficult time asking. However, by not asking, we leave something on the negotiating table.

I know that for myself it's a challenge to ask sometimes, but I am now acutely aware that if I don't ask, I will lose out on a potential opportunity. At my last job, I was being transferred to another property that added a considerable distance to my commute. I calculated these extra traveling expenses to be a sizable sum, enough to the point where I considered looking for employment elsewhere.

A year later, when I was taking the Negotiations class at Simmons, I was able to reflect upon and analyze this work experience with a new lens. I recall that I had written up several scenarios of how things could play out if I acted one way over another, and as a result of those actions, I predicted what the reactions of others would be. This exercise may sound as though I was over thinking things, but it actually prepared me to enter the negotiation with my boss. Being prepared, as we learned in Negotiations, is essential to a successful negotiation; it helps you strategize for every person involved and all possible outcomes.

We also discussed what you do if you do not reach an agreement, which is also known as BATNA, Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. Again, thinking back to my situation, having a BATNA was immensely helpful, as my plan of action didn't actually go to plan. Another important lesson we learned was to have a plan but to be flexible with it.

In the end, it's really not about winning as much as you can and having a distributive negotiation, but rather coming up with a win-win result. I actually never found out how much of a pay increase I was going to receive because I accepted a position outside of the company. The important lesson that I learned though was if I hadn't asked for something, then I certainly would have gotten nothing. Besides, what's the worst that can happen if you just ask?