Women In Business – The Right Move At The Right Time

The Art of Making the Right Move at the Right Time – Manipulation at its’ finest!

How do you know when to make that very gutsy move; the one that wins it all, or you go home broke? There are a few checklist type questions that you can ask yourself when you take the final deep breath at the moment of decision, but first a personal story.

When I was twenty-one, I interviewed for teaching positions at the top paying, suburban, Chicago public schools. In those days, there were literally two thousand applicants for every open position. I was getting married and moving to Chicago and my betrothed family (who were all teachers) arranged for me to enter into the interview process. Although interviews are a subject for another column, these interviews were grueling; first interview with three separate committee members, second interview with the entire committee and the third with the decision maker on the committee.

I had been in the pursuit of three jobs and I was sitting at the final interview along with the line of the other final applicants. They all looked a little older and that meant “experience” which is the nemesis of first time candidates. After my interview at this school, I was headed for my third call back at another school.

I was the last one to enter the room at the final one-on-one and I felt that I had an edge on the others in every way except for the category of experience in public education. The interview went fine although there seemed to be an emphasis on the fact that I had never taught in a public school. I remember feeling that one of the other candidates would prevail and in that moment I felt that, I had nothing to lose.

I said, “When do you anticipate a decision?”

Answer: “In a week or two.”

I said, “Oh that’s too bad I am going right now to your neighboring school for my third interview and I am sure they will ask me to sign a contract today.”

No answer (good sign).

I said, (trying to be humble after my bold statement) “It’s too bad, this is my first choice, but there just aren’t a lot of jobs and I have to take the first one offered. I was hoping you would make a decision today.”

Answer: “Could you give me a minute?”

I looked at my watch and waited a second, “Sure.” I left the room and knew that I was one of the final candidates; I thought that at least I had smoked that information out of them. I was in the process with two other schools and knew I had back up choices.

It was a long five minutes, but within ten minutes, I was on my way over to the School Board office to sign a contract.

I did not plan that strategy (I wish I could give myself that much credit). Now in my later years, with accumulated experience, I do understand the game and why I evolved as the winner on that day.

I put it all on the line that day. If I had not been offered the job that day, they would have likely offered it to another person assuming that I had withdrawn myself by considering another position or the fact that I was pressing where I should have been more conforming. (I made over $60,000 a year at my first teaching position.)

That day I learned something and I have used the technique repeatedly. Women have it tougher then men in this arena; it is easy to judge a female as a whiner or worse, the “b” word. Men play these tactile games everyday to show the rule of the roost. If you are going to play “balls to the wall”, consider this checklist.

1) You should have nothing to lose, why? You should have a back up. This means that the game you play is not really the “real” game. If you do not have a back up then you must be prepared to accept the consequences (like one of those game shows to go on to win more money). This is the only way you can “play.”

You have to realize that once you throw it back at them, you have not control. It is the “ball in your court” syndrome; the next move must be theirs.

2) You have to detach from the outcome you can push with a different set of reasoning. In other words, you are giving it a fifty-fifty chance and the thought that it is likely to “not” happen. When you have to achieve a certain outcome, you set yourself up like a victim who “needs” something.

3) You have to be willing to lose everything pertaining to this particular decision. If you are going to stick with a low-ball bid on a piece of real estate, you have to be prepared to walk away without the property.

When you play “balls out”, give an undesirable consequence as the other option; always attempt to take something away from the person in power. This may be as simple as taking their choice away.

4) Your back up is your “need” situation and you should put it aside once it is established. Now you go after what you “want.” Negotiating from this position is self-empowering.

5) The piece of advice is once you make your move; sit still, stand still and be quiet. Wait until you are called upon for the next move. Do not make it for them. This is probably the most nerve wracking and it requires discipline.

Lastly, practice. This sounds weird, but here is a game you can play. Try to get someone to do something that you have no concern over the consequence; in other words, it does not matter if the answer is “yes” or “no”, but you are trying to achieve yes or convince someone to do something that they may or may not take your position. (You have added the element of detachment.)

On being an entrepreneur – NOT – “If you don’t do this we’re through!”

-TRY – “If I can’t convince you then, I will do it myself.” (You took away their power to argue against you.)

On being a mom – NOT – “You are going with me to the store, or else!”

– TRY – “You don’t have to go to the store with me; I’ll pick all the treats myself.” (You took away the power of decision or choice.)

On being a spouse – NOT – “We never go out to eat anywhere nice.”

– TRY – “We don’t have to go out to dinner. What ingredients do you want me to pick up so you can cook dinner?” (You took away the expectation that you were going to do something for someone else.)

On being a coworker – NOT – “I have to do everything around here.”

– TRY – “Don’t worry; I can do it by myself. I need the credit anyway.” (You took away their power to achieve credit or accomplishment).

On being a friend – NOT – “Can you just do this for me one time?”

– TRY – “I wouldn’t expect you to do that.” (You took away your high expectation of that person.)

The right decisions are decisions of manipulation and the right time means that you have forced the choice now or put yourself in a position to choose another consequence. Remember that it does not always work either and that losing does not feel good. If you are going to play the delicate game of manipulation, you will experience both sides of the coin; winning and losing.
You truly have to practice these techniques with words to manipulate as it is called so deviously, or convince as it is more commonly accepted or coined. Another important point is that not all negotiations are equal and that everyone has their breaking point and this is where the Sassy Executive has to use her intuition.