Women in office meetingRegardless of what’s going on in your personal life or what career path you have chosen, there is one skill that all people need to master: negotiating. Skilled negotiators are able to collaboratively solve problems and move ahead in their careers, so why aren’t women engaging in more negotiations? Fear.

According to Salary.com, 55% of women are nervous about entering negotiations, compared to only 39% of men. Women who choose to negotiate are often viewed as difficult to work with, or less feminine than other women who chose to accept what was given to them without making a fuss. Other research has shown that women are viewed this way regardless of whether they entered the negotiation with a smile or aggressive attitude.

But these challenges don’t mean you should settle for less than the best outcomes! Here are 5 tips that will help you become a good negotiator and reach your goals:

1. Ask the right questions.

Certain types of questions can be used during a negotiation to gain more insight into what the other party wants. Try to start your questions with who, what, when, where, how or why. These open-ended questions will force the other party to respond with more than just a “yes” or “no,” so you can extract more information from them. The more information you have about what the other party wants, the more you can tailor your negotiation to achieve an outcome that both parties will be satisfied with.

It’s also helpful to avoid questions that imply you don’t trust or believe what the other party is saying. These questions can change the mood of the negotiation and create an atmosphere of distrust where no progress will be made.

2. Do your research.

Are you preparing to negotiate with your boss for a higher salary? Do your research by looking into how much other people in your industry get paid for the same work. Present your case with facts and data so the other party knows just how serious you are. They will also have a harder time refuting your points if you show up with evidence that supports your argument.

3. Pretend you’re negotiating for someone else.

In an experiment conducted at the University of Texas, researchers found women were more aggressive when they were told to negotiate a salary for someone else compared to when they were told to negotiate their own salary. What does this mean? Women are often better negotiators when they are negotiating on behalf of someone else. If you are feeling uneasy about a negotiation, pretend you are negotiating on behalf of a loved one. This may give you the motivation you need to power through a tricky conversation or avoid settling for less than your goal.

4. Be patient.

It may be difficult to do so, but try not to let too much frustration show during a negotiation process as this may undermine your position. The other party involved will be able to see that your feathers have been ruffled and may view this as a sign that you are being defensive or making requests out of emotion rather than reason. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to conceal all of your emotions – just don’t let them derail the conversation. It’s the unfortunate reality that many women are confronted with sexist attitudes and have to navigate within a patriarchal society. While it’s important to challenges these attitudes, there can also be personal and professional consequences to doing so. If you can stay calm and patiently make your case, perhaps pointing out and shooting down gender stereotypes in the process, you’ll be able to get closer to your goals.

5. Have no fear.

Some women shy away from entering a negotiation because they believe they will be viewed as pushy or demanding, but you are entitled to ask for what you want and/or feel you deserve. Remember, the worst that could happen is the other person saying no, so negotiations aren’t something to fear. Here are a few more tips to build confidence before advocating your views.

In sum, it’s important to properly prepare for a negotiation by coming up with appropriate questions to ask and doing research on the topic that is up for discussion. During the negotiation, don’t let the fear of how you will be perceived stop you from fighting for what you deserve. If you do have a case of the nerves, it may help to pretend you’re negotiating for a loved one or valued co-worker. Follow these tips, and you’ll be closer to getting what you want in both your professional and personal life.

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