Episode: 423 |
Kathryn Valentine:
Negotiation Strategies for Women:


Kathryn Valentine

Negotiation Strategies for Women

Show Notes


Kathryn Valentine is a McKinsey alum, author, speaker and founder of Worthmore Negotiations, a company that focuses on creating effective, research-based negotiation strategies for women, training women to use these strategies, and supporting them during the big negotiations of their career.

Learn more about Worthmore Negotiations at www.worthmorenegotiations.com or reach out to Kathryn on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/kval.

Key points include:

  • 02:27: Why it benefits a company to teach women to negotiate
  • 09:51: Communal negotiation and collaborative negotiation
  • 18:38: The gold standard in negotiations
  • 19:28: How Worth More developed
  • 23:09: Key negotiation tips for women


One weekly email with bonus materials and summaries of each new episode:

Will Bachman 00:01
Hello, and welcome to Unleashed the show that explores how to thrive as an independent professional. I’m your host Will Bachman and I am so excited to have my friend on the show today, Kathryn Valentine, she runs worth more strategies, which helps teach negotiation strategies to women. And I’m gonna let Kathryn explain why that’s the case what she does. Kathryn, welcome to the show.

Kathryn Valentine 00:30
Hey, Will, I’m excited to be here.

Will Bachman 00:32
So, Katherine, tell me about worth more and why it makes sense to have training specifically tailored to women on negotiation.

Kathryn Valentine 00:45
So I’m worth more is based on it’s a research based company based on research that we’ve been doing for the past, gosh, six years about how to negotiate effectively as a woman. And the big unlock that we got about a year ago, was that this is a great strategy for companies to retain and promote women, right? So we know that diverse companies outperform their peers by 50%. Right? That’s from McKinsey, I think a year or two ago. We also know that one of the main roadblocks to being a diverse company is the leaky pipeline, it’s the fact that companies have a really hard time retaining high performing women. What is now kind of our new unlock is that teaching women to negotiate is a solution to that problem. Because a lot of the time that women leave, and I did sort of a series of interviews with HR officers, and a lot of times that women leave, they don’t ask for anything, before they leave, they are just so burnt out, or so frustrated with the situation that they move on to something different. A lot of that is preventable, right? If we can give women the tools to negotiate, and when people hear negotiate, they think it’s just salary, which is certainly part of it. But the number one reason that women leave these companies isn’t actually even salary. It’s the way that the role has been crafted and the leadership around that, which are negotiable items. Right. So by empowering women to negotiate, we can sort of do our part in helping to fix that talent pipeline issue.

Will Bachman 02:15
And that is a little bit counterintuitive. for a company to, to retain employees, is to teach them to do a better job of negotiating with the company. Right?

Kathryn Valentine 02:27
And that’s fascinating. Yeah, so there’s actually kind of two parts to this. Part one is the financial part, which is that particularly at professional services firms, in places with really well educated and highly paid workforce, to replace somebody costs about 200%, of what it would have cost to keep them right. So it is financially beneficial for the company to keep you as opposed to replace you. The other thing is, when they replace you, they’re rolling the dice on someone who you know, may or may not be as good of a fit. And he certainly probably doesn’t know the organization as well and can’t get things done as quickly, at least not initially, right? Part Two, though, is that there are so many things around the job that are negotiable. And research has shown that women do not identify negotiable opportunities nearly as often as men do. So things like when that deadline is or who’s in charge of that high profile assignment, or you know, who’s presenting to the executive team, all of those things are negotiable, and can sort of change the trajectory of your career when added up.

Will Bachman 03:34
So, you so you started answering this next question, but tell me a little bit more. So what is different? If anything in negotiating style, or strategies or preparation, or inclination towards negotiation between men and women? Are there differences that you found?

Kathryn Valentine 03:58
Yes, so this is this was kind of the aha moment that I had when I was in business school. So negotiation, even at the top business schools, is taught as if it’s a gender neutral skill, but it’s actually a highly gendered skill. So if you really dive into the research, what you find is that there’s sort of two main ways to negotiate right? Men can be equally effective negotiating either of those ways. Women are significantly more effective if they negotiate collaboratively. And and this is the part that kind of blew my mind even more. So when women negotiate competitively, it probably would have been better for us to not negotiate at all. Because there’s such a high risk of backlash, whether that be you know, at this point in time, it’s much more, all of a sudden, you’re not invited to that those drinks where decisions are being made, or you’re no longer part of that, you know, they’re forming a new committee and you didn’t get invited and that’s unusual, right? And so when women negotiate competitively, there’s a high risk of backlash, but when we negotiate communally We negotiate better outcomes. And all parties say that they’re more satisfied. Sort of what surprised me about this when I spent a year researching justice in business school. And what really surprised me is there’s a lot of very good, very robust research around negotiating successfully as a woman. But I felt like it wasn’t really being connected to the professional world, right, I had been in corporate America for 10 years before then, and I’d never heard or even knew of any of these things. And so that’s what we try to do is we try to just take the research that exists, and show women how we can use it to be more successful at work.

Will Bachman 05:37
Okay, so this is fascinating. Now, I had a negotiation course in Business School, and it was one of the best courses I took in Business School, anybody who hasn’t gone to business school, if you go to business school, definitely take a negotiation class, because it was one of the best courses I took. Now. It seemed to me that it was very much emphasizing, like collaboration and negotiation, it was very much about, it’s not about trying to get the bigger slice of the pie, it’s about, you know, looking to expand the pie and think about options that create value for everybody and all this kind of stuff. So, you know, it seemed at least to me at the time, like relatively, you know, focus on collaboration. But, but maybe not. So what are some of the things that, you know, when you talk when you talk about these two different styles, explain a little bit more how that is two styles compare? So we understand what it is you’re talking about, that’s the more communal or collaborative style.

Kathryn Valentine 06:33
Right? So the two main and there’s actually five styles has done some research by Marx and heroin 2009. But we’re gonna say that there’s two sort of predominant run ones, right? One is the competitive, which is very much the media portrayal of negotiation. Right? So if you like Google the word negotiate, and you click on the images button, you’re gonna see a lot of competitive negotiations. The second one is communal, which was, I think, really made popular with the book Getting to Yes, which you might have read in your negotiations course. This is Yuri and Fisher. And this is the main way that sort of business schools are teaching negotiation, right? It’s about us versus the problem, and how to grow the pie. And it’s very, very good. And it does work better for women than the competitive style, right? However, if men, particularly men who, you know, are anyone that didn’t take a negotiation, of course, in Business School, if you negotiate the way that the media really talks about it, which is competitively it’s not, chances are, it’s not going to go well for a woman, but it would go fine for a man. The second component, which I’m not sure about you, but my negotiation course did not go into as much is the communal ask. So if I’m going in to ask for more resources on my team, right? If I say, hey, Bill, I need more resources on my team. That’s not going to be interpreted quite the same as if a man says it, which, you know, we can argue whether or not that should be the way that it is. But because of gender perceptions, that is the way that it is. But if I go in as a woman, and I say, hey, Bill, our team has been able to deliver 40% higher than our targets this year. And I actually think that we can do it again next year. But in order to do that, we’re going to need a couple more FTS, because I need to be able to, you know, because we’re generating more work right now. Can we talk about if that’s possible, that ask, which is the communal ask is kind of a key part that enables women to be both get better negotiated outcomes and be ranked as more likeable and higher on leadership potential than before the negotiation?

Will Bachman 08:49
Okay, I mean, that seems like a come across better if a man did that as well, it seems to me.

Kathryn Valentine 08:56
I agree. However, if a man does it the other way, he’s not necessarily going to suffer the backlash that a woman would, and you can see this in studies out of, you know, all kinds of different places, right.

Will Bachman 09:08
Okay. Um, okay. So, tell us So tell me a little bit more about you. Okay. Can you can you give me some more examples of sort of, you know, what differences you found? I’m really interested to hear kind of about the what, what the research shows on this. And absolutely differences in terms of how men and women negotiate. Yeah, or, or if there’s, like different tactics that that women either get better results from or that you know, that they are or women will create a better impression using?

Kathryn Valentine 09:51
Yeah. So there’s the two main ones are a communal negotiate or a competitive sorry, a collaborative negotiation. With a communal ass, that’s kind of the, the, the biggest sort of your high level strategy, right? If you break down the research further, there’s a couple other tips in there. One is that when women take a negotiation training, it completely eliminates the gender gap in negotiated outcomes. So if you took a man and a woman off the street and had a negotiation, like many researchers have, right, chances are that the man will do better. But if you train the woman on how to negotiate, and then you have the negotiation, there’s no longer any gender gap, right. And this part hasn’t been proven. But the idea behind that is that the reason this may exist, is that the sort of work world is and the structures there are created by the predominant group, which are white men. And so all of those things are have been built in ways that are just generally a little bit more natural to white men than necessarily to women. The second thing is data. So if a woman has access to good data, that also eliminates the gender gap in outcomes. So if a woman can actually have both of those, it’s pretty interesting to argue that, you know, women in some ways, are better negotiators than men, which is, you know, 84% of people think that men are better negotiators than women, which I think is something that women internalize. And when we start to feel like, we aren’t a good negotiator, then we don’t necessarily perform at our best, right?

Will Bachman 11:33
Okay. So talk to me, so about a bit about what your your firm does.

Kathryn Valentine 11:41
So worth more strategies offers kind of, we have two things going on. One is for individuals, we do sort of a retainer coaching model, we actually had our biggest win last week, we’ve got a 74% increase in pay for a woman, which was huge for her and huge for the company, because she’d been she is a out performer by far. And being able to have her is a really good thing for them. And then the second thing that we do is we do a program, it’s a four part series for corporations. And they give they give this to their women, and it really kind of unleashes. So you might see what I did there, unleashes their potential in negotiating. And what we see with negotiating, again, is part of it is salary, but a lot of it is you said the deadline was Friday, Friday is actually my kid’s birthday, it means a lot to me if the deadline is on Monday, right? So being able to negotiate differences there can really enable a woman to be significantly more successful than she would have been.

Will Bachman 12:46
Okay, can you kind of give us a bit of a table of contents of what that program looks like?

Kathryn Valentine 12:53
Sure. So it first starts with sort of a mythbuster. So actually, one of our clients came up with this where she was like, here are the things I believed about negotiations before I took this course. One, it’s all about salary. Not true. To I’m not good at it, not true. Three, if I negotiate people will think poorly of me. And, you know, it won’t be good for my career. Conditional potentially, if you negotiated competitively but not collaboratively, right. And then how long a negotiation should take and how you prepare for it or kind of. So that’s part one. Part two is a presentation on the research behind all of this. Again, there are some amazing researchers, both out of Harvard, Amana, to up to out of Georgetown, Deborah Kolb, who was associated with Harvard’s program on negotiation or like just churning out amazing stuff. And so this presentation really connects what they’re finding with how we can apply it and sort of corporate America. Then there’s an online course, which is a step by step guide on how to prepare for negotiation, right. So somebody could sit down with it, saying, I want to ask for a promotion. And by the time they finish the course they will be equipped with, you know how to structure that conversation, what exactly the words are, they’re going to use, you know, what objections they may hear and how you continue that. And then part four is a facilitated small group, to help connect sort of what we know research wise with the culture of that company. So what has worked in this company, what maybe hasn’t worked as well? And how can we create a high performing cohort of women who can support each other really going for and getting those promotions and then being able to stay at that company and continue contributing?

Will Bachman 14:48
To what degree do you include the interactive negotiation exercises as part of the course.

Kathryn Valentine 14:55
Love that so right now they’re in a small group, I’m actually talking to one class about breaking the small group out into two parts and doing a half day workshop and then a one hour small group discussion like six months later. Right now they’re embedded in Part Four.

Will Bachman 15:11
Yeah, that’s, that was some of the most memorable training that I had all of all of business school was that negotiation course. And those those exercises, because that’s when you really feel it in your gut, when you actually are doing it’s one thing to just listen to someone talking at you. But when you actually have to sit down, and even if it’s just a fake scenario, you’ve been handed, you kind of feel it so emotionally. And, you know, some people got the better of me, in some cases, negotiator and I like we came up with some good solution. And or in some cases, we both failed to get what we want. And then you saw the trick afterwards, like, Oh, I should have done that. And then you can remember that much, much longer. So that’s good to hear. What do you think about? I’ve heard this one thing, and it’s kind of a side question. But someone recommending what’s called, like rejection therapy, where you try to intentionally get rejected at something, that you’re okay with it? Yeah. Like, no. And the idea is, like you would intentionally every single day, try to get rejected, like, you’ll ask someone down the street, oh, Can I have a bite of your sandwich? Yeah, like, No, just so you get used to it. So it just, you know, becomes not a big deal to be rejected.

Kathryn Valentine 16:22
I love that so much. Because the fear of hearing no is one that I hear a lot. And actually, if you go back to the I don’t know if you’re familiar, but if you go back to toy coding research, starting honestly, in the 1970s, but then it’s been updated every 10 years sense. But if you look at toy coding, it very clearly shows the researchers would go in and look at the toys that boys and girls played with. And from that, we’re able to deduce that boys were being taught that they control their environment. And girls were being taught that their environment controlled them. And part of that was that when someone says no to a girl, it’s seen as an absolute, whereas when someone says no to a boy, it’s seen as more relative, right? Well, you said no, but what about this? Or what about that, and maybe I’ll come back to you later. And that clearly has pretty significant implications for how people negotiate, you know, 30 years down the road. And so a lot of what I do is I’m laughing because I have a client last week that like, negotiated a margarita, right? And it’s like, yeah, if you can just hear no and learn that it’s okay. It is kind of a breakthrough.

Will Bachman 17:33
That is true, I will admit that I just embarrassed my son the other day. When I was talking, I took my son to get a second vaccination. He’s 16. And they did this thing where they shoot, you know, they shoot your head with like, the the temperature detector. And he said, like, Oh, we can’t give him as a vaccine is 102 degrees 100.2. I felt his head is like, there’s no way he has a, there’s no, he has a, you know, a fever today. Oh, I’m sorry, our little zap machine, you know, it says, and, and then they tried another one that they had behind the counter. And that was as always 100.2. Like, so I, I just, you know, I’m like that the know is the beginning of a conversation, right? So. So I just bought like a thermometer in the store and went outside and tested is like, Oh, it’s 98.4. So I went and showed the pharmacist love 98.4. And then they gave him the shot. So I think, right that for some people they just been drained like no is the the beginning of a conversation. You’d

Kathryn Valentine 18:38
like Oh, thank you. You’ve given me some information. So my favorite negotiations professor who did like the the $2 billion Jim Beam acquisition and all that good stuff. always said that if she didn’t hear no, then she didn’t do her job. Right? Her job is to hear no and then back down, because that’s how she captures the most value for a client. And I always thought that even if I don’t do that, knowing that that’s the gold standard was really helpful.

Will Bachman 19:02
That’s good point. Good point. Yeah. The worst is when you tell a client your rate or something. They’re like, Oh, that’s perfect. You’re like, Ah, so Okay. And, you know, I think I’m also curious to hear a little meta question about just sort of how you got into this coaching on negotiations. I think that you, you know, there’s some backstory behind that.

Kathryn Valentine 19:28
Yes. So I took the negotiations course in Business School, much like you, I kind of just transformed how I thought, right? I was one of those people who was raised to always care about others before myself. And if I heard no, that was the end of the conversation, and frankly, I probably shouldn’t have even asked, because that was rude. Right? And so before business school, I had never negotiated anything. Save one when my grandfather was sick, but like very rarely negotiated anything. And I went to business school. took this course loved it. And then when I was sitting in the class, the guys next to me were telling all these stories of things. They hadn’t goshi ated. But it just never occurred to me, right? For them, it was like, their key skills are like networking, negotiating, blah, blah, blah. And I had never thought about it that way. And so I went into my MBA internship. And I actually ended up a month in sort of finishing the assignment. And so I went back and said, like, in the wrong way, hey, I finished our assignment, I’d like to be moved to this department, period. And I did not go well. It did not go well, for a couple of reasons. One, because of how I asked but two, because there were some political things going on behind the scenes that I wasn’t necessarily aware of that blue ended up blowing up so big, that I, I still don’t think I ever could have been successful in that organization. My current boss was pissed at me, the guy I wanted to work for was mad at me, like it just was not a good situation. And so I went back to business course, sort of like with my tail tucked between my legs, trying to figure out what I’d done wrong. And I thought I thought it was me. I thought that, you know, I wasn’t good enough, or clearly hadn’t understand the content or something. And when I went to meet with one of my professors, she was like, here’s what happened. And she kind of started to unlock the negotiating as a woman viewpoint for me, and then gave me some really good readings, and referred me to another great professor who oversaw my research for the year. And I just really spent some time diving into it. And I was shocked at how much research there was on this. And Had I known that, before I had gone into the room, right? Like, it’s possible, I would still be at that company. And so what I wanted to do was figure out how to share this. So I wrote a paper, send it to a few friends. And that paper just got forwarded and forwarded, and people I didn’t even know, would reach out to me on LinkedIn, or find my email address and say, Hey, I’m in this situation, what do you think? And so that was just kind of a side conversation that I would have here in there. And I always loved COVID made my independent consulting business difficult enough, particularly because well, because we had our one on our three year old so that I just started taking their nap time to like, post some of these resources online. And then Adweek and Forbes got wind of it. And then I know a couple other calls were made to me. And I realized that this might actually have a shot to be a real business that, you know, helps women and helps companies get the diverse workforce that they need to succeed in the future. So I’m just really excited about it.

Will Bachman 22:48
Yeah, that’s fantastic. If you only had just a, you know, a couple minutes to, to tell a woman, that one or two or three or four key points about negotiating his woman, what some of the highlights that you’d want to make sure that listener takes away.

Kathryn Valentine 23:09
If you can make it about other people, then you’ll be fine. So that’s kind of my and I think, to your point, that’s probably true for a lot of men, right? There was this article written recently that the way to negotiate as a woman is about to become the way for us to all negotiate as sort of ideas of what leadership means changes. But as long as the woman makes it about the other party, how it’s good for clients, or the company, or the customers or the team, then she will be able to avoid backlash, which is really what most of my clients are worried about.

Will Bachman 23:43
Interesting. Okay. And do you want to talk at all about what your if someone’s interested in the individual coaching program? What does that look like with you? Is that like, just a one off meeting? Or is an ongoing retainer? Is it something that you do by the hour? Or how do you structure the program?

Kathryn Valentine 24:04
It’s now a retainer that we set up to last the amount of time that the client needs it, right. Some people are need to get through a conversation. Some people actually are, you know, leaving big consulting firms, and they have six offers, and it’s going to take a few weeks to figure it out. And they don’t know when that next offer is coming in, right? So they need something slightly different. I am experimenting with a new model, where instead of charging an upfront fee, I charge 10% of the negotiated difference. And I’m really excited about that one because people can very clearly see what the value of that skill is. Yeah,

Will Bachman 24:43
that’s pretty powerful. Um, cool. And beyond, like you said, I mean, you mentioned a couple times beyond just the salary. What are some of the other dimensions of the negotiation particularly around kind of a new, new contract, right? As opposed to just the daily life of being at a firm but of a contract, what are some of the other dimensions of that, that you help people open their eyes to or help them think about?

Kathryn Valentine 25:09
It’s a great question. So a lot of women leaders negotiate not only getting into the role, but their ability to be successful in the role. So this is things like scope, scope of the role, title, what your team looks like, what your budget looks like any system upgrades, you may need to be successful, shown, and so forth. It’s also things like, meeting participation, right there. had one woman actually recently who negotiated she got a job that was an hour away, she could not move her family of four at this point in time. So instead of wasting two hours in the car, she negotiated a driver, right? The company was thrilled with that, because they get an extra 10 hours of work from her every week, and her family was excited because they’re not losing time with her. Right, and they don’t have to move. There’s all kinds of things that you can so if you go to my website, which is worth more negotiations.com. On the top bar, there’s a list of the 60 things that I’ve seen women negotiate outside of just salary, and you can download it there. The other thing that I would encourage women to do is just ask, like, if you could wave a magic wand, what would you want in your role? And what are the daily irritants that make your role more difficult? And the answers to those questions can usually be negotiated.

Will Bachman 26:33
When you’re talking to your corporate clients, what’s the sort of Title of the executive that you’re typically talking to when you when you negotiate when you personally Catherine negotiate your, your, your programs or your training programs?

Kathryn Valentine 26:51
Right now? I that’s actually a great question. It’s a question that I’m looking to the answer to find the answer of right now there isn’t a commonality. So in one company, it’s C suite, and another company, it’s the head of the head of women, right? One thing that I have learned is that it needs the program needs an executive sponsor to be as effective as it can be, because it needs someone in the business who, you know, really is saying that this is important.

Will Bachman 27:21
So listeners, if you know a company that you know, might be interested in this kind of support for their women, let’s definitely make an intro to Catherine will include her LinkedIn profile in the in the show notes as well as the link to her website. Want to share the link to your website, Catherine? Sure.

Kathryn Valentine 27:41
It’s worth more negotiations calm and I’ll send you a link Well,

Will Bachman 27:47
alright, fantastic. So Katherine, thank you so much for joining today. What you’re doing is fantastic work, and I’m excited about it. It’s great having on the show. Thanks so much. Well, I appreciate the opportunity.

Related Episodes


AI Project Case Study

Karen Friedenberg


Why and How to Become an Adjunct Professor

Panel Discussion


Building a World-class Professional Services Firm

Russell S. Reynolds, Jr.


AI Project Case Study

Paul Gaspar