Last month, a new study came to a somewhat shocking and downright puzzling conclusion: women ask for pay raises just as much as men do but receive them less often. The revelation debunked the common notion that not broaching the compensation conversation is what cramps women’s pay, and it raised an obvious question: why are women being turned down?
A panel discussion on negotiating tactics at Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Summit yesterday provided a few clues.
Vicki Medvec, executive director of the Center for Executive Women at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, said it’s not that women don’t ask for things as well as men. In fact, women are better at it—when they’re doing it on behalf of their organizations, companies, and kids. “It’s only when we’re asking for ourselves that we struggle,” she said.
The problem? Women reach agreement too quickly because they “like to get to yes” and “don’t set ambitious enough goals.”
Medvec recommends approaching a negotiation in terms of four questions that she calls the “issue matrix.” One: Which are the key elements that are most important to you? Two: What’s most important to your negotiating partner? Three: What will be most contentious? And four: What’s easier for you and the other side to give up?
Pontish Yeramyan, founder and CEO of consulting firm Gap International, offered another suggestion that’s sure to resonate: whenever she hears “no” in a negotiation, “I just don’t believe that’s forever.”