"Dear Younger Betty"
Dear Younger Betty,
You have many exciting years and opportunities ahead of you! Please know though that your successes will not just fall on your lap – you will need to speak up, advocate, and negotiate for yourself. Think carefully about what it is that you want and need, know your worth, and don’t forget that you should always consider what others need and want too. In short, take an A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.TM approach to advocating and negotiating for yourself as well as for others:
• Assess: Do your research and comprehensively evaluate the situation
• Market: Know your worth and of what you are negotiating based on “market value”
• Alternatives: Understand each parties’ alternatives in the relevant situation/discussion; line up your own alternatives to help bolster your “market value”
• Zone of Possible Agreement (ZOPA)1: Determine range of what each relevant party could potentially accept and where these respective ranges may overlap. This will help reduce the likelihood of either short changing yourself or unrealistically over-reaching
• Interests: Understand each parties’ interests, which are not just monetary. When possible, go to decision makers truly “interested” parties) and see how you can address each others’ needs/interests and show the value of what you bring to the table; look for easy wins
• Non-offensive and Non-defensive: Negotiate and express your worth/value (or of that for which you are advocating) to counterparties in a confident yet nice way. Be “emotionally intelligent” and take an approach that will not put others on the defensive or offensive
• Good: End discussions with everyone feeling good about the agreement being a win-win (vs. a nickel and diming exercise); if there’s no agreement, don’t burn bridges
Although the approach may sound a bit “technical” to you now, you’ll find that keeping all of the above in mind will be critical when you advocate and negotiate – whether you are doing so for yourself or on behalf of your company/others. You’ll find that these skills are not only applicable to the many years you’ll spend negotiating M&A deals. You’ll find that your personal success will also be contingent upon your ability to advocate and negotiate effectively for yourself.
“If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” Don’t assume that people can read your mind or that something is non-negotiable – even if someone tells you that it is. Remember that whenever you negotiate compensation – know your worth, line up your alternatives, talk to the real “interested” decision makers, see where there may be easy gives for the other party that are worth a lot to you (including vacation days), and ask/negotiate nicely as well as confidently. Also, remember to askwhen you discuss professional development (e.g. Stanford ALP and executive coach) and other opportunities.
Speaking up and out will also mean that you will have to push aside your “Asian” tendency to defer to your elders. Whether you are at Harvard or at a corporate meeting, be confident that you have a seat at the table because you have valuable perspectives to contribute. At the same time, when you are vocal, be extremely careful about inadvertently offending someone or making him or her feel defensive. Even if what you have to say has merit, your approach may backfire if you are not careful in thinking about how the other party may react.
No matter what, be authentic - embrace being an Asian American woman and leverage your background to be in a genuine place to help others find their voices, develop, and flourish. Lead by example, be vocal, and rally others to follow you – for the Women’s ERG, the Asian Leadership Initiative, and many other initiatives. Speak up, share inspirational stories, and challenge stereotypes! Be sure to write that book with mom!
You will also become the founder of Inspiring Diversity (a collaborative community focused on inspiring, empowering, and elevating people of all backgrounds to achieve career goals, while helping organizations build more diverse and inclusive communities). This experience will put your speaking, advocating and negotiations skills to work for something about which you are truly passionate. So, take an A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.TM approach and learn from every experience!
Older and More Experienced Betty Ng
© Inspiring Diversity, LLC
1 Roger Fisher and William Ury. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, 3rd ed. (New York: Penguin Books, 2011)
"Dear Younger Betty"