Tag Archives: negotiation

Business advice, free of charge.

9 Feb

I recently got into a discussion with a friend about titles. Not house titles or book titles, but professional titles. As in, what does your business card say?

My friend was bemoaning the fact that her company uses titles that make sense internally, but don’t in any way correlate to the outside world. Namely, to their customers.

“I’m pretty high up in my organization,” she told me, “but my title says manager so whenever I’m negotiating with a client, their response is generally, ‘let me talk to your boss.'”

I can relate. I work for a company that doesn’t place a lot of importance in a person’s title, so we all roll with what we’re handed. For the most part it works, except that I generally am negotiating with Vice Presidents. Little do they know that in my world, everyone is empowered to help them, and “manager” means it’s generally within my jurisdiction to stop the buck.

Anyway. Back to my friend. She asked if I thought she was making a mountain out of a molehill, or if it was a legitimate beef.

My response?

First, I think it’s fine to have TWO titles. To internally have a title that conveys your function and speaks to the progressiveness of the organization, if you work for a flat organization. But when it comes to the outside world? Hell no. You need to speak the same language and translate your competency into terms your clients can understand.

You ask for respect in how you present yourself, and a title is part of that. Poor titles mean you spend a decent part of every first conversation trying to establish your credibility and defend your position. It’s a waste of time.

As I told my friend: “You wouldn’t expect to be treated with respect if you went to the doctor, pointed to your crotch and say ‘my hoohoo is broken,’ would you?”

No? Exactly.

Use words fit within your clients’ vocabulary. Otherwise, brace to have many lame hoohoo conversations.

You’ve been warned.

TIP: If it really was a partnership, you wouldn’t need to tell me.

13 Sep

"You might be a more effective negotiator if you didn't use the 'f' word so frequently."

I can’t provide too much back-story here without compromising the anonymity of the other party (and no, it’s not Alan!), so I’m just going to offer some seemingly obvious bits of advice that  occurred to me in the midst of an unfortunate exchange with another person today:

  • When negotiating, it is generally best to NOT let the other party know they have nothing left to lose before you’ve arrived at what it is you’re seeking.
  • Try not to shriek – unless you would like to perpetuate the notion that women are too emotional to be trusted in Corporate America.
  • When I’m in the middle of summarizing my understanding of the situation and on my way to proposing a solution, don’t interrupt me unless you don’t want a solution.
  • Don’t say “legally” unless you have a J.D. or – barring that – can pronounce “fiduciary” without sounding like you’re hooked on phonics.
  • If you DO say “legally” and I know you don’t have a leg to stand on, don’t act insulted when I ask if you have a law degree or suggest that you conference in your counsel so that we can get a valid interpretation of the contract.
  • If you have to state (repeatedly) that, “We are all adults here. We are MATURE adults here. We are grown-ups. We behave like grown-ups,” then you probably aren’t. Act it, don’t say it.
  • And if you find yourself saying, “I’m not trying to be unprofessional by yelling at you,” then guess what? You’re not only trying, you’re succeeding!