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How to negotiate your next big move

24 September 2020

In partnership with Westpac Ruby Connection, PepTalkHer’s Meggie Palmer hosted an insightful Lunch & Learn session on Negotiating Like a Pro. Our special guest speakers this month were Sam Trattles, author and founder of Other Side of the Table; Jeff Lee, former COO to Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez; Sandra Casinader, Group Head of Capability Delivery, Inclusion and Diversity for the Westpac Group.

See the webinar with Jeff and Sam on negotiation.

Key takeaways:

Muster up a powerful alter ego before negotiations - even your heroes do this.

Start small by asking for more in everyday life to help find your inner voice - ask for something extra on your coffee or salad, for example.

Only you can control you - get your mindset right before going into negotiations. Think of it like working through a puzzle together. Recognise when you need to take a break and reset.

Prepare! Prepare before you even enter a negotiation. Think of different scenarios and test the waters with people you trust.

Have a lifeline so you don’t fall into the death spiral: go outside for a break or re-schedule for another day.

Speak slowly and have handy bridging phrases to help diffuse tension and keep people engaged.

Find a negotiation buddy and keep each other accountable: Normalize these conversations and you’ll feel more comfortable and confident going into negotiations.

To watch the recorded session, click here

Edited Session Transcript

Kirrah: Thank you so much, Meggie. Hi, I'm Kirrah. I'm from Women's Markets at Westpac and Ruby Connection, and I'm here today with my wonderful colleague Sandra Casinader. She's our head of inclusion and diversity at Westpac.

It’s such a privilege to be here today. This is our fourth amazing webinar with Meggie and PepTalkpHer. We're so, so overwhelmed and delighted with this series. For those of you that are new to Ruby's Westpac online community for women. We're here for all women who are at all different parts of their financial confidence journey and we're here to have these really important conversations about building your wealth and looking after your financial future. So, enjoy the conversation today and back to you Meggie.

Meggie: Awesome. Thank you so much Kirrah and a massive welcome to everyone who is joining us. I can see a lot of you are joining from all around the country today and indeed throughout the US as well.

We're going to make this as interactive as possible today. Feel free to pop in the chat, the city, town that you are joining us from today so that we can get a sense of where everyone is from. It is an absolute pleasure today to be talking to you on Equal Pay Day. I'd like to wish you all a very unhappy Pay Day. It is the day that marks the fact that women need to work an extra 59 days into the financial year to earn on average, the same as men. So, not a happy Equal Pay Day. We won't use that terminology. I like to call it unhappy Equal Pay Day.

But we are here today to talk about negotiating like a pro, which I think is a very pertinent time to be having this conversation and it's such a pleasure to introduce the fabulous Sam Trattles. A big hello to you, Sam. Do you want to give us a quick tweet-sized introduction to you and your background before we introduce Jeff as well?

Sam Trattles

Sam: Thanks, Meggie. I'm so happy to be here. Hi, everybody. My name is Sam Trattles. I am a commercial deals negotiator. And I'm the author of I Love Negotiating. So I'm here to try and help you to change your perspective on negotiating.

Meggie: I love it. I love it. And I love that you frame it as I love negotiating. We want you all to walk away today after the session feeling like you also love negotiating. And Jeff Lee, thank you so much for joining us from a late evening in New York City. A big hello to you as well.

Jeff Lee

Jeff: Hi, Meggie and thank you all so much, especially Sam, Sandra, and Kirrah for having me here. It's such a pleasure to join you all. A little bit about myself, I am a trained corporate lawyer. I practiced at the law firm of Wachtell Lipton which we're very proud to say handled 18% of all global M&A last year by value with under 100 lawyers, so we'd like to say that we punch above our weight. And after I finished that, kind of tour of duty in the trenches, I joined Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez's team as their chief operating officer. And I was their chief business manager as well as attorney responsible for negotiating deals for two very prominent figures and protecting the brand across the board. I've had a long-standing interest in elevating women to positions of power, whether that be in the private sector or in public service. So this is a very meaningful day for me. And I'm very happy to join you all.

Meggie: Thank you so much, Jeff. And we're really excited to learn more from you about what you’ve seen across the negotiating table at the big end of town doing big deals for people like J.Lo and others.

And I want to quickly share with you how Jeff and I met. We actually met at the Glamour Woman of the Year awards last year, and when he heard my Aussie accent in New York, he started reciting the Julia Gillard misogyny speech to me, which is not something that happens every day.

Muster up a powerful alter ego

Jeff: “I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man!” That was just iconic. I’ll just jump in and then give Meggie the mic back. We all have a superhero in mind. That's one of the things that I learned from working with Jennifer Lopez is that even before she goes on stage, she's got an alter ego, and it's got a name, I can't tell you what it is. It's actually used in our security codes.

But she's got an alter ego that she's created for herself that she musters before she goes on stage before she goes into the boardroom, and it’s the same for me. On many days, it's Julia Gillard. It is me standing in front of Parliament delivering that speech. And so I really encourage you all to keep in mind that your heroes may not look like you or don't have any natural relationship to you, but they are who you make them be.

Meggie: Thanks, Jeff. I really love that and kudos as well for being able to recite verbatim another country’s speech.

Listen, I want to throw it to you, Sam, just to kick it off. This idea of negotiating. You've written a book on this and you say you love negotiating. I'm gonna guess that a lot of people in the room today maybe do not love negotiating and are a bit hands-off. If you hear the word negotiating - do you feel anxious or nervous? Can we just get a bit of a show of hands if the idea of negotiating makes you feel a bit sick on the inside? Because that's certainly how I used to feel. So Sam, what would you say to the half of the audience today who's hearing this idea of negotiating and frankly, freaking out?

Start small by asking for more in your everyday life

Sam: It’s interesting because actually 87% of people on average are apprehensive about negotiating, which generally means that most people hate it. So you're in good company. But it's not that hard. The problem I find is that we haven't been taught this skill at school. And that's the number one reason why we hate it. We don't know whether we're doing a good job of it or not. I do think that everyone can become a good negotiator. We just need to look at the times that we do it well, and then pick apart the pieces that we loved about that. And we were like, Oh, yeah, I did ask for that. And start really small. So, start by being a little bit difficult when you order something for lunch.

So if - maybe not so much in COVID, but in general times - when you order a coffee, you ask for something a little bit unusual, ask for extra chocolate on the top or if you have a salad, ask for the salad dressing on the side. They’re nothing to do with negotiating, but they help you find your voice. In asking for what you want when it does come to the times when you really need to negotiate, then you've got it, you've got your voice, you can do it. And then you'll step up and have that conversation when it comes time.

Meggie: I just love that advice, because you're quite right. I think we build it up in our head, this idea that negotiating is a conflict or it's really hard or it's a win-lose situation. But actually, you're quite right. There are so many ways that you can kind of build-up to that.

And if anyone on the call has children or nephews as I do. My nephews, I tell you what, they knew how to negotiate with me from about 12 months old, I'd say. So actually, we do know how to negotiate from a very young age, but you're quite right, Sam, we're not sort of taught officially at school necessarily, so we put it in the too-hard basket.

Jeff, I'm interested in your perspective. What do you think? What would you say to people who want to move into this mindset of a pro negotiator? But maybe feel like they’re kind of coming from a low base to start with.

Only you can control your mindset

Jeff: I think you have to start with understanding that you control you. And you can only control your mindset going in. So you should view the negotiation as practice. I still agree with Sam, nothing is ever fun in life until you are good at it. You gotta eat your vegetables before you get there.

But I think if you view every negotiation not as pounding the table, the way that you see in the big dramas, but as discussing a problem that you're going to solve together. You're actually negotiating your future relationship with one another.

I even viewed the termination of my employees as a negotiation. And here's how you and I are going to be talking about our future. We're not going to live together. We're not going to see each other all the time, but down the road, we need to have an agreement and a meeting of the minds as to how we're going to interact with one another. And in that respect, you and I have a problem that we need to solve together. Unless you're highly confrontational.

Maybe you're not looking forward to duelling each other with swords on the battlefield. But it becomes an exercise of how about we just take a puzzle and work through it together. And if you go into with that mentality, it becomes something to look forward to. And no matter how heated the other side might be, no matter how much they tried to make you sweat, you can control how you approach and view the discussion at hand.

Meggie: And I love that really in a negotiation, you are in control of your perspective and your side of the table. You can't control the other person. Something that I learned very early on. The key thing is about preparation.

I think sometimes we think, oh, we'll just go into the negotiation and we'll just wing it. She'll be right. But actually, preparation not only gives you confidence, it gets such a better outcome, doesn't it? Can you talk to us, Sam, about what you do when you're preparing to go into a large negotiation?

Prepare, prepare, prepare!

Sam: Everything is about preparing. It's probably 65 to 70% of your time for every negotiation. It's about a mental game. So accepting that you will participate in this negotiation. And if you don't like that word, just call it a series of conversations. My preparation is about being able to articulate why I think I deserve this pay rise or this change in status or the price I charge my clients.

So what is the case and evidence that demonstrates that I am worth what I say. Then it’s up to  me to debate that when I get into the room. The other piece is that actually how do I control myself? We're not going in there to smack our hands on the table. I know when I'm getting frustrated, and it's because people are not communicating well. My face will get a little bit red. So I've got a little smiley face on my notepad that's got red cheeks, and that's an indicator for me to look at and remind me, be careful of my red cheeks. It's an indicator that I actually need to call a timeout.

Whether that's five minutes in the bathroom, or saying to everybody, look, this is getting a bit crazy. Let's just go and look at the sky for five minutes and come back and start, regroup and start listening again. So definitely spend time out of the room and check in with other people and test your case with other people so you can strengthen it.

You can prepare even more by saying, Well, if they say this, then I'll say that and if they say this, then I'll say other things. So you've kind of tested the waters already with people that you trust, and perhaps people that are in similar positions to the person you're speaking with.

Meggie: That's such good advice. Because I think sometimes part of the anxiety walking into a negotiation is not knowing how it's going to go down. And so actually, if you do some literal roleplay, I remember when I used to be negotiating for salaries, I would practice with my dad. And I would say to him be as mean as possible, like ask me the hardest questions. Tell me No, tell me No, tell me No, because I wanted to practice I wanted to feel that, No. That's a bullet to the heart of getting a raise or whatever.

If you practice in a safe environment, when you then transition to the IRL situation, all of a sudden, you're much more prepared and ready to respond with those prepared phrases that you mentioned, Sam.

Jeff, I want to hear from you on this.

We've had a lot of questions coming through, specifically on pay negotiations.

And one of the things I always say to people is to make sure that you write down your wish figure, your want figure and your walk figure. And I always have it physically written down, like what is the wish number, the ridiculous amount of money I want to get paid? What is the wants number, the number I'd be really happy to be paid? And what's my walk figure? Like, what is the number that at that point, I'm ready to quit that job at some point or turn down the offer?

Because if you do the mental gymnastics beforehand, when you're in the actual room, those conversations are a lot smoother, right? So is being ready to respond to that with phrases like: ‘Thanks for that offer. I'm gonna need some time to go away and think about it.” Just buying yourself some time so that you can come back with a considered option. Jeff, I'm interested from your perspective, what would your advice be to the people on the line who are asking specifically for advice around negotiations on pay,

Have a lifeline

Jeff: The starting point that you had - the three tiers of your willingness. In negotiations there is the time-tested concept of the anchor. Whoever drops that opening position tends to drag the other side towards them. Because there's a psychological correction that we do in negotiations, when a number is put onto the table, provided it's within that zone for you.

The number means we've psychologically positioned the counterparty to get there. So it is very key to remember that if you don't end up being the first person that drops that number, and your counterparty is the one putting that number on the table, know whether or not it's in your zone. If it's not, then you have to say, listen, we may have to regroup at another time, you may have to pull on what we call the lifeline.

I think that's key. I think in these days of COVID, it's much more than just the numbers. There's another part of that sheet that I would encourage you to do. The non numerical points of value that you may want - vacation days, job title upgrades, things that are softer and easier and that you can use to kind of trade around in case you are in need of additional points of value.

Remember that frequently your managers may say because of the market, or because of everyone in your class, I cannot do x. Don't let that opportunity be wasted. If it's truly from the heart and it’s a no on the number, try to see if you can extract some of the non-monetary points of value that matter to you, like more vacation days and the ability to work from home.

On top of that, my face flushes, I turn red, and when I sense that happening, I know I want to avoid what I call the death spiral, which is when you really feel that you're getting out of control and you do the worst possible thing that you can do in a negotiation which is agree on something you have to walk back on later.

So make sure that you have the lifeline. And the lifeline is very simple. You're always in control of the conversation. I'm so sorry, I have a bad zoom connection. I'm so sorry. I've got to go and check on my family member outside, or as simple as I think that we're gonna just have a more productive discussion in an hour or two hours or three hours.

Nothing is ever that urgent that you have to get instant agreement. If there's no meeting of the minds, the deal will get done. It will get done, but only with an agreement from your end as well. So never let yourself get into that trap of that spiral where you feel yourself being browbeaten into agreeing to something that you have to walk back on later.

Meggie: I think this also comes down to preparing for what the alternatives might look like. So coming up with solutions. So, you're going in for a conversation with your boss about pay. They might say yes. They might say no. And if they say no, where are you going to take the conversation next?

Have you thought of alternatives to say, Okay, I understand we're in a pandemic, would you consider me working four days a week? Would you consider an extra week’s annual leave? So coming up with those solutions and doing some of the legwork for them?

Sam, we've had a lot of questions coming through here from people saying things like, Is it always a negotiation? Or are there times like during an economic downturn where you should, in fact, accept the first offer? And secondly, can you and should you even be negotiating right now, given the economic climate?

Sam: Yeah, it's an interesting question. I'm getting a lot of this from clients at the moment. And for me, there's always a time to negotiate your worth. As business owners, we do it every single day, whether we like it or not. And then when we're talking about a salary, we're doing it probably once or twice a year.

So yes, during a pandemic, it is a difficult time for lots and lots of brands. And you don't want to go out there and be unreasonable. But if you've done your research and it is your time, then it is the opportunity to open up the conversation, whether someone can do exactly what you want right now is a different story. What are we going to do together to prepare for when I can - when it turns into a yes.

You need to have these conversations and they take the time.

Meggie: I think that goes back to the point that you made at the very start Sam about taking those baby steps to get comfortable for asking for more for asking for your value for asking for a raise.

You're not going to get it every year necessarily, but you should be having that conversation. Because if you're in a company for five years, and you don't ask and you ask in the fifth year, and they say no, they're not going to feel that bad. If you've asked every year for five years, it's quite hard. You can imagine then for your boss to turn around and say no, no, no, no, no. But, context is everything. And right now context is really important.

If you're working, if we have anyone on the call from Qantas. For example. This week has been probably not the week for you to rise, right? But you may be working at a tech company that is busier than ever, and your sales have gone up. So the context may say that you are absolutely within your rights to ask for a raise right now.

So having that full perspective is really important. Jeff, we've had a couple of questions here about taking emotion out of negotiation conversations. You've negotiated a lot for J.Lo on large deals. I'm interested in some of the large deals that you've done. What are some of the tactics that you've seen some of those big names use to maybe reduce the emotion or the tension or the anxiety that they may feel before they go into these negotiation conversations? What can we learn from them?

Speak slowly and use bridging phrases

Jeff: I think women have superpowers when it comes to the art of persuasion. I'm just gonna go out and say there is nothing more powerful than somebody who is in control and understands the other side. Someone who's done that homework and has the EQ.

So one of the great negotiating tactics that Jennifer has always used is the mere fact that she is underestimated when she enters the room. Now you and I might meet her and we might be wowed by her star power. But we are in many rooms many boardrooms where the billionaire on the other side of the large corporation, has no patience and views her as quote-unquote, another celebrity. And there, I think you use that superpower of, they're expecting something very straightforward and you play it gently.

But then when they realize that you're two steps ahead of the game, you've done your homework, that's when you've already gotten everything that you wanted off the table. In terms of an immediate kind of tactic. Speak slowly. That's the thing that I learned from my first mentors in my law firm.

When you speak slowly, it diffuses all the tension in the world. Now, sometimes the other side might think that you're speaking like a mother to her child, but speaking slowly also gives you the chance to process your thoughts as well. It allows you to just go into the mode where you're not rushing into an answer.

Finally, I'd like to throw one in, which is, if you find yourself getting off course, just add a bridging phrase. “My third point is... my second point is…” when you throw that bridge in, it implies that you have a multifaceted thought. It breaks up the flow. And it sounds like you've thought things through when really, we've all been there, We're just talking, right? And when you throw that bridge in it stalls, reforms and actually makes you look better.

Meggie: That's such a great point to be able to have that phraseology to buy yourself some time as well when you're thinking on the spot in negotiations. And again, if you've done that preparation, it's a lot easier for you to find the words that you're looking for.

Sam, I'm interested, we've got a lot of people on the call today who have messaged me directly who have their own businesses who have side hustles who are interested in this concept of pricing right now.

Can you firstly be putting your rates up right now? And this idea of the packaging, is this a really great time to be looking at package pricing rather than sort of one-off pricing? I think that applies to full-time people on the call today to thinking about full compensation as well as the people who've got their own business. Can you speak a little bit about your experience with that?

Sam: Yeah, it's an interesting time. We tend to sell pre COVID and actually, at the moment, that's just not palatable. So we're doing the opposite. We're not packaging, we're actually breaking down products to the smallest, it's going back to basics, really a minimum viable product.

How do we get people to understand what it's like to work with us, and then the rest will come. So I think increasing prices is fine at any time if you haven't rebased your pricing. So definitely go and do the exercise of making sure that you do have competitive prices. And whether that means your rates are up or down, that's your decision. But make sure that you can negotiate on your rates because you know how you got them.

Make sure that you have the rate card in your head. You don't need to share that with others. But make sure that your pricing is right for the market that is today. Then you make the decision again on whether it's increase or decrease. Nobody's interested in an end to end strategy right now.

So selling bigger products is probably shooting yourself in the foot, because there's going to be a lot of rejection on that.

Meggie: Yeah. And I guess this is the same for whether you're within a company or you have your own business. It's all about what is the value that you bring, right? And how do you track that success that you're adding to the company either as a vendor or as an employee? And for me, I founded PepTalkHer and built the free PepTalkHer app for that exact reason, because I wanted women, in particular, to start to track their successes, because I don't know about all of you sometimes I forget what I did last Tuesday, let alone three months away, right?

And so if I'm walking into a pay raise conversation, how can we make it so that you're tracking those successes, on a regular cadence. And so that's why we built the app. It's free, it's on Apple and Android, and it will just prompt you twice a week to reflect on the success that you've had. So you've got those data points there, to put forward during your pay raise conversation.

Jeff, just finally, before we wrap it up, we've got the fabulous Sandra, who's going to talk us through another Westpac initiative as well before we wrap up, but Jeff, I just want to get a final word from you. What's the one piece of advice that you think people can put into practice this week that will help them strengthen the negotiation muscles, so to speak. That's how I like to think of if I wanted massive biceps, I'd go to the gym and do these every day. And it's the same when we're thinking about practicing negotiation isn't you've got to take small steps on a regular basis.

Ask yourself everyday what you are worth

Jeff: Ask yourself what you're worth every day. Look in the mirror and ask yourself what am I worth? Look what you did that last week, evaluate it and say, What am I worth? I have a fundamental problem with the idea that we're just equalizing pay because the men set the bar and aerotow you're just like, who says that we're actually better at it. Like with all due respect to my gender, like, I truly believe that you are your best judge of what you're worth. And when you do that on a regular basis, it will actually adjust your mindset.

You will have that confidence, this is in my gut the right thing for me. And I do think that a lot of us just go into our days and we do what we're told. And we look at the market and we size ourselves by relationship by you alone know the value that you bring.

And when you have an app, honestly, like Meggie's, and I'm just gonna plug it because I think it's amazing. It's a great exercise to go into every conversation with that list in your mind, whether that's the regular bonus negotiation of the year, or if it's the final conversation you ever have with your employers, to have that list ready, and sometimes even in physical form, because people forget what you've done, you forget what you've done.

But if you size that up every day, you're going to have the most realistic picture of what you're worth. And that's gonna prevent you from ever entering the death spiral or ever giving up more than you are at your gut comfortable with giving up.

Meggie: That is wonderful advice to end on. Thank you so much to everyone who sent through those questions. We just love these short and sharp Lunch and Learn sessions. Thank you everyone for joining us, Sandra. I am so delighted that you are able to join us as well. I know you're also a negotiating Pro. And you've been working on an amazing program internally within Westpac. We'd love for you to tell us about that, especially because it's a cool payday.

Sandra: Thanks so much, Meggie. Hi, everyone, so delighted to be on the call. So I wanted to talk about an amazing program that we run called equilibrium. This is where we actually target women outside of the banking and financial services sector to come into Westpac and bring all their amazing transferable skills and shake us up a little bit. So we can actually challenge the status quo. And we also have an internal stream that develops women that are talented as well.

The number one bugbear I have is that when they get these amazing roles, they're really not prepared to have that conversation about remuneration. So I actually make it a point of mentoring them and trying to unpack what it is that causes that barrier to actually asking for what you're worth. So We go through a whole session where we actually talk about this as part of uplifting their capability. And it pains me every time I see this, and I have the same old conversation.

So then what I do is I actually make it a task when I'm mentoring them, that they actually basically come back and report back to me on how they did with that career conversation, using all the amazing information that Jeff and Sam just shared. So it's quite pivotal. But yeah, delighted that we're promoting this course because we have to keep working at it.

Have a negotiation buddy to stay accountable

Meggie: I think that's a really great idea what I would love to challenge everyone based on that great point that you made, and I'd love to challenge everyone who's here today, within the next hour, text someone that or DM them on LinkedIn or drop them an email and say listen, can we be negotiation accountability buddies, and I'd love for you all to get on the phone for a 15 minute, 20-minute chinwag and just do a practice negotiation.

Maybe you're buying a house. Maybe you're buying a car. Do you want to ask your boss to cover your LinkedIn premium membership, whatever it is, practice that conversation with a buddy? Find someone who you trust who loves you and supports you and start having those conversations. Because the more that we can start to normalize these conversations, the more comfortable you'll feel, the more confident you'll feel such that when you're going in for bigger, more important, more scary negotiations, you'll feel so much more confident.

And we'd love you to let us know by the way, how you go, I've popped all of our LinkedIn contact information in the chat channel, please reach out to us see us as a resource. See us as your cheerleaders from the sideline. In working towards your next negotiation.

We'd love to hear how you get along. But thank you for spending your equal unhappy Equal Pay Day lunch with us today and a big hello to all the animals who've been joining us. And also Sam's dog, Charles who's been snoring which is sad.

Sam: I know she's so tired. She's a really good negotiator. So she's bored by this subject right now. Like so good! Thanks so much for having us.

Meggie: That's awesome. You can check out Sam's book. I love negotiating. It's available on Amazon and also on our website, which is in the chat as well. You can check out Jeff on Instagram. He's prolific on there and on LinkedIn and also Sanders on LinkedIn as well.

We've popped a survey as well. We'd love your thoughts. What would you like us to talk about next time? Who would you love us to speak to? We look forward to the next Ruby Connection Lunch and Learn session.

Connect with our panelists on LinkedIn:

Sam Trattles

Other Side of the Table

I Love Negotiating

Jeff Lee

ARod Productions - COO & President

Sandra Casinader

Group Head of Capability Delivery, Inclusion, and Diversity - Westpac Group

Meggie Palmer

Founder & CEO - PepTalkHer



IG: @peptalkher

You can track your wins at work with the free PepTalkHer app available on Apple and Android.