ULI Philadelphia Blog

WLI Meeting Recap: “Be a Better Negotiator”

The March meeting of the Women’s Leadership Initiative of Philadelphia’s Urban Land Institute was generously hosted by JKRP Architects. We honed our negotiating skills using a video taken from the International Women’s Day (IWD) toolkit. This year’s IWD theme was Balance for Better. International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women – while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender balance — which perfectly aligns with our focus for this year’s WLI programming.

We began with this eye-opening graphic which demonstrates that men continue to dominate in business overall and that after over a decade of talking about diversity and inclusion, the business world has barely moved the needle in terms of gender equity at the highest levels. Negotiation is one way women can affect change for ourselves – better pay, better jobs, and better working conditions.

Link to graphic.

The video presentations from Duke University professor Ashleigh Shelby Rosette focused on specific tactics and the savvy women of WLI shared experiences from our own performance evaluations, job interviews and contract negotiations, as wells as those times when flex work hours are needed. Here are some of our key takeaways:

  • Start with the mindset that you deserve what you are asking for. You earned it!
  • Avoid saying, “I want” or “I need,” instead focus on inclusive language that presents solutions or outlines the value proposition.
  • If you aren’t seeing eye-to-eye, ask questions to better understand the situation.
  • Be prepared with research, specifics and measurable examples i.e.“I am the top seller in the department.”
  • Make a list of talking points and rehearse.
  • Stay aware of your body language and ditch the apologies and weak words like just, probably, very.
  • A face to face meeting gives you much more feedback than the phone when negotiating. Email is the least effective way to negotiate.
  • Aim high and know what you need. Flexible hours, more support staff, a title, or a new challenge may mean more to you than money. A better benefits package, more vacation time and phone and vehicle allowance or expense account may be easier to negotiate.

We talked about how important it is to know your personality. Some of us thought we came across as timid, while others got the sense that we were perceived as aggressive. We talked about setting unreasonably high standards for ourselves and others.  The meeting was timely, because many of the attendees were gearing up for a performance evaluation or job interview, but really we enter into negotiations every day. When you consciously advocate for yourself and the best outcome in each negotiation using these techniques, you may be surprised at what you can accomplish.

Philadelphia WLI meets monthly on an array of topics about business and real estate. We focus on skills building, networking, and spotlighting real estate trends and key projects. If you would like to participate in WLI or consider hosting us at your office or building, please contact Kelly Cary, Kelly.Cary@uli.org.


This article was contributed by Charlene Drake. Charlene is an Environmental Redevelopment Specialist at Langan Engineering and one of the Co-Chairs for ULI Philadelphia WLI.

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