Negotiation Tactics That Every Woman Should Use


Women and men are treated differently in the workplace. That’s just the way it is. 

Over the years, The Black Swan Group has found that women have used five specific skills to great effect during negotiations. We call them the Fab Five Skills for Females.

Keep reading to learn these five negotiation tactics and increase the chances you navigate your next negotiation with ease and arrive at your intended outcome.

Negotiation tactics for women

1. Labels™

Women are great at using Labels™, which are verbal observations of emotions that are displayed or implied but not obvious. For example, if someone is raising their voice during a negotiation, you might say: It seems like you’re frustrated about something. 

The goal of Labels is to uncover the emotion behind what the other side is saying. Women are particularly adept at using Labels because it comes intuitively to them.

2. Mirrors™

Mirrors™ consist of reflecting the last three to five words your counterpart said with an upward inflection. This tactic can give women power and control over a situation. You’re not confirming or negating anything. Instead, you’re just repeating what was said and giving the other side the opportunity to reveal additional information.

If your counterpart states several different ideas, mirror the one that you’re most interested in learning more about. If your counterpart says three sentences and the information you want to explore is in the second one, mirror a few key words from that sentence with an upward inflection.  

When used correctly, Mirrors give women a way to discreetly control the conversation.  

3. Accusation Audit™

Women often get accused of being too emotional or too assertive. An Accusation Audit (AA)™ allows you to defuse these obstacles from the outset.  With this tactic, you can determine the negative sentiments likely harbored by the other side and address each of them proactively.

For example, you might kick off your AA like this: You may have heard that I’m pretty aggressive or you might think I’m coming across as overly emotional. 

In order to come up with your AA, you need to be aware of the negative things other people are thinking about you. In this light, an Accusation Audit allows you to demonstrate self-awareness and an awareness of what is being thought or felt on the other side. 

4. Summary™

Women tend to be good listeners—capable of understanding what people are saying and holding on to the facts—making a Summary™ the perfect tool for them. 

The goal of a Summary is to demonstrate that you have a complete, thorough understanding of the other side. It can be used at several different points in a negotiation or tough conversation. Using it for clarification at any point is something women are very skilled at. When you execute the summary you are looking for a That’s right.

Once you hear that phrase, you know you are on point with the other side.

5. No-Oriented Questions

Many women (and men for that matter) are addicted to yes. But what if you could get better outcomes by seeking a no?

It turns out, you can. By asking no-oriented questions, you prevent the other side from thinking that you’re too demanding. On the flipside, when you push for yes, you can be seen as overly assertive.

Letting your counterpart answer with no makes it easier for them to maintain their autonomy, which makes them more likely to want to do business with you.

How to Get Out of an Awkward Situation

Unfortunately, women can be subjected to inappropriate or patronizing behavior. Someone might call you honey or sweetie, for example. 

In the event that happens, remember that Labels are your friends. Use Labels to redirect the conversation: It seems as though we’re getting off track. If the behavior persists, you may have to make your Labels a bit tougher: It seems like you think it’s okay to call me that.

Interested in learning more about how to use the Fab Five Skills for Females and the important role tone plays in your success? Sign up for our next Women’s Power Hour, which kicks off July 7, 2021 at 11 a.m. ET. See you there!

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Sandy Hein

About The Author

Sandy Hein is a Negotiation Instructor and Coach at The Black Swan Group who has been with the company since December 2011 and transitioned to a full-time role in July 2020. Sandy began her career as a police officer in Alexandria, Virginia, and wore many hats during her 23-year stint there, including 10 years as a hostage negotiator. She was also a certified instructor with the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services and served on the training faculty of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. Since retiring from law enforcement in 2012, Sandy has gone on to teach criminal justice to high school students, author books, and train law enforcement agents across the country in several areas, including sexual violence, crisis intervention, and hostage negotiations. At Black Swan, Sandy follows her passion for teaching. She enjoys connecting with clients on a personal level and using a conversational approach to help them realize that—regardless of their personality or experience—they can use The Black Swan Method™ effectively if they have the right mindset and are committed to improvement. In her spare time Sandy is an avid reader. She has been known to peruse four to six books at a time with the help of an E-Reader.