The Difference Between Taking and Receiving
The word for negotiation in Hebrew is “Masa Umatan”, which can loosely be translated into “receiving and giving”. This beautiful dynamic is often overshadowed by the belief that a good negotiation means taking all you can through forcefulness, but it remains at the base of every negotiation.
What is negotiation?
Negotiation is a situation in which at least two parties have decided that they are better off working out a situation together, rather than trying to get what they want on their own. It means each of them believes that the other person has something they need, or is able to help them get it. There is an element of agreement to this- can you negotiate at someone if they are not negotiating back? You can try, but the outcome will not be much better than if you chose to pursue your goal on your own.
This is not to say that all negotiation is heartfelt and warm. It can be complemented with brute force. This means aggression, intimidation, guilting and belittling can be used in negotiation as a means to try and delegitimise one’s, negotiation partner. It could even make them feel like they are not needed or relevant for a necessary outcome. For example, one may try to convince or trick their partner into believing that they are obligated to give something, or that it is legitimate to take something away from them. Perhaps even that they are vain or selfish for wanting it in the first place.
Giving and Receiving
But in Masa (receiving, or carrying upon) and Matan (giving), there is little place for taking by force. Something has to be given, and there needs to be consent. In fact, ideally, there should be something much more proactive than consent. There needs to be a will to give. Think of one of the most classic negotiation scenarios- Sex. If you want the sex to be good, it shouldn’t be something you relinquished, swindled out of, or just gave consent to. You should want the outcome. And the better the outcome for both (or all, no judgment!) parties, the more likely they are to repeat the experience.
Reciprocity is implied- one gives as well as receiving. If one is only giving, and the other one only receiving, what unfortunate kind of negotiation is that? And what reason on earth is there for the giver to remain in the negotiation?
When Women Negotiate
For women, this should mean that if you are not getting what you need from a negotiation, you should be able to change a tactic or step away. It means that you should believe that entering negotiation is appropriate and beneficial in the first place, and is better than allowing others to decide on outcomes that affect you. This means you feel that engaging in negotiation will result in getting things you want, and striving to get things you want is appropriate and positive. And also that your entitlement to want them does not depend on the approval of external factors!
Unfortunately, these are feelings many women are uncomfortable with. We don’t recognise enough opportunities to improve our situation through negotiation, and we do not always realise that we can get up and leave the negotiation table if the terms don’t suit us. Often, we equate the conflict involved in negotiation with negative outcomes or anxiety and frustration. We put such emphasis on our roles as givers, not realising we should also be receivers, and allowing things to be taken from us that we did not consent to give.
On Women and Giving
Femininity is often associated with giving and sacrifice. We give our bodies for the sake of reproduction, we give our time for the sake of education and health of our children. From a young age we get more of those chores that are not associated with payment. We give up our egos for the sake of keeping things pleasant.
I do not think that women should change themselves into men. Personalities exist on a spectrum and are more complex than any such generalisation could possibly encompass. The traits we associate with femininity, such as giving, selflessness, care for the other, communal thought, and consideration should be applauded, taught, and rewarded! Not pushed aside for more selfishness, aggression, and adversity.
I do think we have a lot to learn from men, as they have been dominating the public negotiation sphere for centuries at least. But far more importantly, we need to find out what it is to be a feminine negotiator. What a feminine negotiator looks like and what she brings to the table. To fully pour into the world the feminine context of actively engaging in human interaction and leading negotiation as full equals.
Next Sunday Women the Workshop is coming to LONDON for a one-time Workshop on Women as Negotiators! Info & tickets here
Founder of Negotiatress