Menu

If you are familiar with the world of entrepreneurs and start-ups, you’ve probably heard the question, “What’s your unfair advantage?” The idea of an unfair advantage, at least in business, is that it’s your unique skill or talent that can’t be easily copied or bought.


In negotiation workshops, I’ve often encouraged participants to identify their own unfair advantages as part of the evidence they prepare for making an ask. I’ve received pushback from women, in particular, who have said, “If it’s unfair, why would I use it?” So I would backpedal, clarify and explain using different words.

Recently, I was speaking about negotiation to the Young Professionals Network at She’s The First, a non-profit that provides scholarships to girls in low-income countries. When I brought up the idea of unfair advantage, Perrie Rizzo, She’s The First’s director of resource development, raised her hand and said, “At STF, we call it your superpower.”

FEATURED VIDEO

I love this positive and empowering take on a concept, which I know from experience leaves many people feeling cold and icky. With thanks to STF, that’s the language I now use.

Your superpower is something that comes to you naturally, effortlessly and without the need for justification, like Wonder Woman’s superhuman strength and speed. I’ve since heard from many women that mentally framing the concept in this way helps them embrace and own their strengths rather than rationalize and defend them.

You must be able to identify and articulate your superpowers before they can help you in a negotiation. If you’re not sure what they might be, start by thinking about what qualities come naturally to you. What’s obvious to you that isn’t to other people? If you’re still stuck, ask colleagues or friends who you’re close with to help you brainstorm.

Here are three negotiation superpowers you may already have and how you can use them to achieve your goals.

1. Empathy

Empathy is being able to put yourself in your counterpart’s shoes and really imagine how a situation feels from her or his perspective. While this can be especially challenging if you are already in a conflict situation, it is essential.

If your mind is made up before you enter a conversation, you’re less likely to come up with creative solutions that will satisfy the needs of both you and your counterpart. Imagine what their priorities, goals, fears and anxieties are and find a way to address them in your offer.

Your goal is to make it easy for them to say yes to you. For more on how to summon empathy, Dr. Christine Garcia, a clinical psychologist at UCSF's Department of Psychiatry, shares her strategies—including role-play.

“Becoming a mom has made it much easier for me to recognize that individuals have shared challenges,” says Celia Wilson, NYC mom of one.“For mothers, it includes communicating with partners, figuring out how to soothe the baby, encouraging sleep and finding opportunities for self-care between the demands of others. I am embracing the view that everyone is doing the best they can with what they have.”

2. Leverage

This is your opportunity to capitalize on the concessions you’ve probably already made but have not necessarily gotten credit for. Perhaps you went above and beyond to make sure an important client meeting was successful, or you convinced a key supplier to renew a contract when it was considering canceling.

You can frame your request as asking for something in exchange for something you have already done for your counterpart. “Working parents are extremely efficient with their time,” reflects Kate Gomes, a London mum. “We have to be! So often the fact we completed a task early with no fuss is our best leverage, and one we can use with impunity.”

3. Collaboration

Women are very successful when they negotiate on behalf of others. Frame your request as something that affects or benefits your team or organization as opposed to just you as an individual: think personally, but act communally.

One example could be requesting budget to hire a junior associate. Yes, this person would take work off your plate and free up your time to pursue more engaging projects, but he or she would also do the same for others on the team. This elevates your entire group’s productivity and sophistication and benefits the organization as a whole.

“As mothers, we come together to teach our children to negotiate with others on a daily basis so that they can have successful relationships with others—taking turns with prized toys, setting up or changing the rules of a game and making and accepting apologies,” says Sabrina Smith-Sweeney, NYC mom of three.

“We can use that same superpower that helps us understand and explain both sides of the relationship to our children into our workplace negotiations. Before making your pitch, you can think about how you would guide both sides of the conversation if you were coaching from the sidelines.”

Originally posted on Forbes.

You might also like:

Motherhood is a practice in learning, growing and loving more than you ever thought possible. Even as a "veteran" mama of four young sons and one newly adopted teenager, Jalyssa Richardson enthusiastically adapts to whatever any given day has in store—a skill she says she's refined through the years.

Here's what just one day in her life looks like:


Jalyssa says she learned to embrace agility throughout her motherhood journey. Here's more from this incredible mama of five boys.

What is the most challenging part of your day as a mom of five?

Time management! I want to meet each of the boys' individual needs—plus show up for myself—but I often feel like someone gets overlooked.

What's the best part of being a mom of five?

The little moments of love. The hugs, the kisses, the cuddles, the smiles... they all serve as little reminders that I am blessed and I'm doing okay.

Are there misconceptions about raising boys?

There are so many misconceptions about raising boys. I think the biggest one is that boys don't have many emotions and they're just so active all the time. My boys display many emotions and they also love to be sweet and cuddly a lot of the time.

What do you think would surprise people the most about being a mom of five?

How much I enjoy it. I never knew I wanted to be a mom until I was pregnant with my first. My desire only grew and the numbers did! I am surprised with every single baby as my capacity to love and nurture grows. It's incredible.

How do you create balance and make time for yourself?

Balance for me looks like intentional planning and scheduling because I never want my boys to feel like they aren't my first priority, but it is extremely difficult. What I try to do is not fit it all into one day. I have work days because motherhood is my first priority. I fit in segments of self-care after the kids' bedtime so I don't grow weary.

What's the biggest lesson you have learned from motherhood?

I have learned that sacrifice is actually beautiful. I was terrified of the selflessness motherhood would require, but I've grown so much through the sacrifice. There is nothing better than living for something bigger than myself.

When did you first feel like a mom? How has your motherhood evolved?

I first felt like a mom when I was pregnant with my first son and I intentionally chose to change my eating habits so my body could be strong and healthy for him. I didn't have to think twice—I just did what I thought would be best for him. That decision being so effortless made me realize I was made for motherhood.

My perspective has changed with each baby as I've realized motherhood doesn't have to be one-size-fits-all. With my first son, I was a by-the-book mama and it was so stressful. With each baby, I have felt more freedom and it has made motherhood so much more beautiful. I have evolved into the mother that they need, I am perfect for these boys.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


Our Partners