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On Getting To Yes: Culture, Context and Communication

14 Apr 2014 2:55 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Our April 2014 speakers, from left to right: Macken Toussaint, Nancy Steager, Gayle Cameron and Elizabeth Butler

Regardless of sector, industry or profession, your professional success lies in your ability to persuade, negotiate and collaborate with individuals and teams toward mutual gain. 

In April 2014, Boston Women in Finance presented “Getting To Yes: The Art of Persuasion, Negotiation and Collaboration,” where our expert panel included Hon. Elizabeth Butler (retired), JAMS Dispute Resolution Mediator, Gayle Cameron, Massachusetts Gaming Commissioner and Nancy Stager, EVP, Human Resources and Charitable Giving, Eastern Bank. 


We learned:


The Importance of Culture

  • Understand the culture: Before getting to yes, you must first understand the culture in which you’re working. This includes knowing who makes the decisions, whose favor you must first win in order to persuade their spheres of influence, and even how you go about getting to yes. For example, one panelist shared that there was always a ‘meeting before the meeting,’ where the final decision was made.
  • Know Which Tool To Use: As one panelist stated, “When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. But not every job requires a hammer.” In getting to yes, the context of the decision is key. By first understanding perspectives of all the parties involved, you’ll be more successful in selecting a set of tactics that will sway your audience.
  • Be Present: Most importantly, getting to yes means being fully engaged in the process. From doing your homework to being fully present, actively listening during discussions to building value in the relationships you develop, you will fare better and show your passion by being fully present.

Understand the Context

  • Be Cautious In How You Use Relationships: While some negotiations benefit from using key relationships, others can be damaged beyond repair. Before pulling in your influential relationships, take a moment to consider the perspective of the other parties involved, and whether this tactic may sway them or turn them off.
  • Chip Away For Faster Results: Sometimes, the bigger fights just can’t be won. In this case, the panel encouraged attendees to ‘chip away,’ or offer alternatives that are smaller steps to your larger victory. This strategy can be just as effective as one big win, and can sometimes work in your favor by acclimating the other party to your intended change.
  • When In Doubt, Stop Doubting: A clear message shared by our panel was to encourage our attendees to never question the leverage that they have. Many women feel that they have little to no leverage in negotiations, when in fact they are often the more powerful party.

On Utilizing Communication Skills

  • Don’t Railroad Just To Be Right: As one panelist stated “Being right is insufficient to being effective.” If you have the upper hand in your negotiation, don’t railroad it. If you do so, you run the risk of damaging relationships, which may prevent you from winning in the future.
  • Keep It Positive: The short-term advantage of  a “win” will be lost if there are long-term resentments.  Therefore, keep your negotiations positive by using positive language and approach each discussion with constructive communications.

Final Takeaways

  • Prepare, listen reflectively, and engage fully with your audiences
  • Understand the context, communicate effectively, and find common ground
  • Never underestimate the importance of credibility and likeability, internalize the culture and context, and nurture your relationships

Our next program, “Networking For Results,” is on May 8, 2014. For more information on this program, please click here.
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