My guest today is Ching Valdezco. She’s a global learning consultant with Exec-Comm and helps leaders and teams learn to communicate, influence and negotiate effectively. I met Ching several years ago at a conference in San Jose, and the audience (myself included) was absolutely wowed by Ching’s tips and tricks on how they could successfully negotiate their worth. It was a real pleasure to connect with her once again and hear her share truly insightful information on how you can begin sharpening your negotiation skills today.
March is Women’s History Month, and all month long, Punk Rock HR is bringing you conversations with women who are fixing the world of work. In this episode, listen to my conversation with the negotiating goddess herself, Ching Valdezco.
Focus on Others
Some of us might imagine that negotiation involves the act of convincing someone else to do exactly what it is that we want. But this couldn’t be further from the truth; negotiation shouldn’t be a selfish act at all. “You are a more effective communicator and influencer when you can focus less on yourself and more on others,” says Ching. Figuring out the needs and motivations of the other party is key to a successful outcome for both parties that makes them want to work with you again.
This also means striking a balance. Focusing on others in a negotiation doesn’t involve selling yourself short and adapting your needs to theirs. “What it means is, can you understand what motivates that other person?” she says. “What do they care about, and how can you find a way to give them what they need so that they, in turn, will help you get what you want?”
Focusing on the other person also involves bringing your strengths to a negotiation. Being nice isn’t a weakness, and you don’t have to put up a tough facade in order to influence others. “If you put people at ease, that means people will want to work with you,” says Ching. “It usually also means that you’re pretty good at setting a positive climate.”
Ask the Right Questions
As you prepare to enter into a negotiation, the most important thing is to arrive with a clear understanding of what your goals are. Ching acknowledges that this part doesn’t necessarily come easy. “What’s most important to us is the toughest part,” she says. “If you’ve done your homework ahead of time, and you understand yourself, [then] you understand what’s important to you. That helps you strategize about what you need to ask for, what you would hope to get, what you’re willing to settle for.”
Once you’ve done the groundwork, the next thing to add to your negotiation skills toolkit is knowledge about how to ask the right questions. Ching emphasizes remembering that negotiations are conversations. “It’s a two-way dialogue,” she says.
An example she gives involves negotiating a salary with your employer. As you’re going through the hiring process, they’ll ask you questions about your work history and desired salary. That’s an opportunity to ask the right questions to leverage yourself and negotiate the compensation that you’re worth. She says, “You might ask a question back about how they see you fitting in that role or what value they see you bringing. And that takes a conversation to a very different place than just talking about the raw numbers.”
Eliminate the Stress of Negotiation
Let’s face it, the act of negotiating isn’t an inherently enjoyable task. Ching talks about how the stress can have detrimental effects if you aren’t careful. For instance, if you’re negotiating your salary and anxiety takes over during the back-and-forth, you may be less focused on agreeing on that final number and more so on getting it over with and exiting the conversation.
Ching provides us with some useful tips to overcoming this type of stress and seeing negotiation in different terms:
- Reframe your mindset. You can change how you view “negotiating” in the first place. Instead of thinking of it as an intensely personal and aggressive task, consider it to be an “information gathering exercise.” Ching says, “It’s the art of understanding what the other person cares about and uncovering as much information as you can.”
- Practice. According to Ching, you don’t have to start right out of the gate with a heavy salary negotiation. As you grow and learn to perfect your negotiating skills, start small. “Maybe you could call your bank and negotiate your credit card fees,” she says. By entering into negotiations in situations with relatively low stakes, you create a less stressful opportunity to see what works for you and what doesn’t.
Want to learn more? Watch this video of Ching’s workshop “Negotiating Effectively for Senior Leaders” to see her go into more detail about the ins and outs of becoming a master negotiator.
Gain an even more in-depth understanding by signing up for Dynamic Interactions, an interactive class that will help you sharpen your personal negotiation skills and navigate difficult conversations better. The class takes place on June 9 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET. Use code PODCAST to receive $50 off.