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Julia Bear’s Tips for Women to Improve Negotiating Skills

Woman in office
  • Cultivate Alternatives

“Having strong alternatives to whatever negotiation you’re in will give you more leverage in that negotiation. The stronger your alternatives, the less dependent you are on that other party in the negotiation. You always want to be thinking about cultivating your alternatives; your alternatives are your leverage. Even if you’re in a job right now and you’re happy with the job, think about what your future looks like at that job. Don’t be reactive, be proactive.“

  • Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

“It’s important to be as prepared as possible when you enter the negotiations. When you get an offer, what good does it do if you don’t really know how competitive the offer is? Sometimes you get an offer that you think is amazing and then you find out it’s not as amazing as you first thought.  And if you have gotten a very competitive offer, you need to know that as well. Maybe the salary is great, but you want to negotiate other parts of the compensation. You need to do your homework.”

Woman in office

  • Role Play as You Prepare

“This is a great thing to do for a couple reasons. First of all, practice is always good. Second, we tend to suffer from what’s called in psychology ‘egocentric biases’. We focus on ourselves and we don’t really think a lot about other people. The nice thing about role playing is that it can prepare you for all the things that the other party can say. There is at least one other party who has a whole set of interests and preferences and constraints that you probably haven’t even thought about.”

  • Leverage Your Network

“Dig into your network and talk to people to find out what a competitive salary for a position is. Try to get personalized, specific information. Don’t just rely on a quick Google search.”


Julia Bear, an associate professor of organizational behavior in the College of Business  at Stony Brook University, studies the influence of gender on negotiation outcomes, as well as conflict management and work-life issues in organizations. 


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