Women Business Challenges

Angela from United Kingdom asked:

"I am a sucessfull female sales person and have recently been promoted as a segment regional sales mgr. I am responsible for increase of sales within this area. Two gentlemen in this region I support can make some put down remarks towards myself. Can you give me some advice in dealing with this?"

A Negotiation Expert Answered:

Despite the fact that women are well educated, ambitious and often much more career focused than men, power relations between men and women in management remain unequal, particularly at a senior level. Although theoretically women have all the same rights and opportunities, unfortunately the structures and social processes of organizations frequently continue to emanate from male-based practices, prerogatives and privileges.

The first step towards solving the situation is to ask yourself what the reasons could be that are behind those gentlemens behaviour. Maybe some of their needs and interests are being threatened. You can not solve the problem by removing symptoms - that way you will risk their re-occurrence. Try to identify the reason behind this situation and attempt to eliminate it.

There are some techniques that may be helpful. One of the things one could do in a negotiation when negotiating with a less powerful counterpart is to collapse ones power e.g. asking someone for help or advice even if we do not really need it - this often assists in disarming strong positional bargainers. It does not mean that you have to quit your ambitions and become more compliant. Invite them to improve collaboration by contributing their thoughts and suggestions. Do not focus on who is right or wrong, but rather explore each others stories. Focus on what happened; discover the other sides feelings and what this situation means to all of you.

Being a manager is about getting the most out of your people. Building mutual trust, respect and freedom of expression are essential elements of relationship building. In this context, there is a particularly relevant rule of persuasion -reciprocity - which states that people feel obliged to reciprocate behaviour that they have received. Showing interest in and respect for the other side may be an anchor for getting something in return - the other sides respect and acceptance.

Another potential solution might to overcome the put down remarks by beating it with something more convincing for the person whom you report to. Find a neutral solution that will work better than your colleagues opinion. Obtaining testimonials from your customers could be a good testimonial for your performance and competency. You can also take legal actions but keep in mind that focusing on interests is less costly than solving problems through engaging power.

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