Negotiate Your Way to a Better Job
(and a better life)
(page 1 of 4)
Attorney Ellen Carson works both from home and the office - a
It’s a workday morning late in the week and attorney Ellen Carson is at her home computer, in her pajamas, working on affidavits. She’s been at it for three hours — since 6 a.m. — but by 9 she’s able to take a break and putter in the garden. Or head to Chinatown and saunter through one of her favorite neighborhoods shopping for fresh vegetables.
It works for her, it also works for Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing, the family-friendly law firm that was happy to have Carson work on a flexible schedule, including one day a week from home, after she was diagnosed with melanoma 15 years ago.
“Most stress comes from the sense of being out of control,” she says, “and this gives me a sense of control. If anything, I became more productive, but in a way that was better for me.”
Carson really didn’t have to negotiate for what she needed, since the firm’s philosophy is to support its people. But she recommends that if one needs to bargain with a boss or even a spouse for a lifestyle change, there are steps to follow.
“It’s about identifying something that can be a win-win solution for both sides,” says Carson. “It’s called interest-based negotiations — looking at their interests and your interests and how to do something that meets both.”
In this two-car, two-career, two-kid world of ours, the art of negotiation is part of what makes life work. For women, especially, developing well-honed negotiation skills, applicable either at home or in the office, can make the difference between life in the doldrums or “la dolce vita.”
Successful negotiators say that, before you knock on the boss’ door, much needs to happen, whether you’re looking for better pay, more flexible hours, a day off for school, the chance to work at home, or any number of other options that enhance life.
“A lot of people suffer from the Christopher Columbus syndrome,” says attorney Peter Adler, a top Hawaii mediator who now heads a national and international mediation group based in Colorado called the Keystone Center.
“They wing it — they don’t know where they’re going, they don’t know where they are when they get there, and they don’t know where they’ve been when they get home. So before you go into a negotiation, do as much planning as you can.”
Any successful negotiation starts by doing your homework; preparing well; and understanding what you really want while also understanding what the other person wants. It also means being realistic, coming up with options you can accept, and tamping down the “I want” or “me first” scenario in favor of working out something that’s good for both.
Retired Circuit Court Judge Marie Milks
“People always talk about ‘give’ and ‘take,’ but it’s about mutual benefit,” says retired Circuit Court Judge Marie Milks, who now handles cases for the firm Dispute Prevention & Resolution.
“Talk from the standpoint of results — what is the ultimate benefit for all — and work backward to how you get those results.
“Don’t go into the discussion saying, ‘What I want …’ That’s a turn-off. You look like you’re selfishly motivated. Instead, you might say, ‘I’m thinking about going to school because it will help me perform better. What do you think?’ You want the other person to buy into the process, and be ready to help you succeed. In your own way you’re ‘selling’ the idea as a benefit to the other person.”
Do you like what you read? Subscribe to Hawaii Business Magazine »