Should HR Professionals Work Up The Courage To Negotiate Competitively?

Check out Kris Dunn’s recent blog post at the HR Capitalist Retail and Religion – Now Inhibiting the Negotiation Skills of an HR Pro Near You…

Though the reasons given for our negotiation hesitancy are insightful and, I believe, spot on, the post moved me to more or less use the HR Capitalist Blog’s comment section to write today’s post.  Here’s the intro to Retail and Religion.

Have you ever noticed how bad a lot of Americans are at negotiating?  I don’t mean the type of negotiation you’re doing on eBay right now; I mean real negotiation.  The kind where if you’re going to win, somebody has to lose.  Where every dollar you save or gain comes right out of someone else’s pocket.  The type of negotiation where you are telling someone directly, either face to face or on the phone, what’s acceptable and what’s not.

Though my response will not surprise my readers, I’m hoping it will spark a conversation at the HR Capitalist.  The intro to my comment here:

Thanks for raising negotiation skills as a matter worthy of discussion among HR professionals. Let me suggest, however, that savvy, money-saving, value-enhancing negotiation strategy and tactics are rarely of the competitive zero-sum variety.

A few bedrock principles of value-enhancing collaborative problem-solving negotiation include: (a) a dollar is not a dollar, i.e., everyone has a different subjective experience of money and its source; the reason for its payment; the timing of its receipt; and, the degree to which it fairly reflects value are just a few of the variables that can make one dollar feel like $10 or $100,000 feel like a slap in the face; (b) HR professionals and their employers possess items of value which are often of greater worth to employees than the cost of the thing to the employer – this means that employees can be compensated $1.00 in value with something that costs the employer 50 cents or, even better, with something that costs the employer absolutely nothing (expressions of gratitude; the inclusion of employees in the decision-making process when the decision will affect the working environment and so on); and, (c) most people are more interested in how their compensation compares to others who do the same or similar work than they are in the unadorned dollar value of their compensation – this I learned from sitting in compensation committee meetings in law firms where litigation partners would become enraged by a $200,000 year end bonus for the sole reason that another partner received a $500,000 year end bonus. It wasn’t about money; it was about fairness.

So, do we need to screw up our courage, drop our hesitancy, and go bravely forth into competitive, distributive zero-sum bargaining session to prove our negotiation moxie?

For the answer – or at least one possible answer – to this question, click here.

                        author

Victoria Pynchon

Attorney-mediator Victoria Pynchon is a panelist with ADR Services, Inc. Ms. Pynchon was awarded her LL.M Degree in Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute in May of 2006, after 25 years of complex commercial litigation practice, with sub-specialties in intellectual property, securities fraud, antitrust, insurance coverage, consumer class actions and all… MORE >

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