What Women Say...

“I’ve been working with multinational firms in China at which I learnt how to perform well as a senior worker under the managerial umbrella of mostly male supervisors. I witnessed and experienced many times how frustrating and defeating it can be when we as senior female managers try to take a stand or set out arguments against male peers. The results, however, would either become too personal and emotional and often required a third party to intervene. Either way, we didn’t get what we wanted nor gained the confidence and pride as we expected.

The increasing diversities at management levels demand us as women to be equipped with highly effective and efficient negotiation skills to cope with the ever-changing business environment where we thrive to grow. I took the workshops taught by Samuel Passow of the Negotiation Lab during my MBA study at the University of Kent in England. I went back China with the enlightenment and handy skill-sets gained from the negotiation courses, which empowered me to become a successful corporate business negotiator doing my work in spectrum of integrating business management across multi-disciplines led by men and underpinning comprehensive business cases/models amongst private and public business stakeholders.”  - Stella, Business Development Manager in Shanghai 


“It is obviously we live in a man’s world. In our everyday lives we are forced to play their games. Their aggressive messages scream at us through advertising and social media and we automatically respond to them. It creates a kind of tunnel vision and we no longer see what’s going on around us. We don’t take note of other people’s emotions. We overlook potential opportunities. This kind of thinking leads us nowhere.

Can we step aside and peer out of this box to become a clear-headed person? Certainly yes, and it happened with me on this training. The Negotiation Lab helped me to realize that to win I don’t need to behave like an aggressive man. I can be myself – a woman. And I can win a losing game. It showed me multiple ways to be an effective negotiator and achieve win-win results. This was the most outstanding training I’ve ever got in Russia. Samuel Passow certainly has wit and passion and knows how to use it.”  - Maria, Procurement Contract Manager in Moscow


“Since my professional career has always been in the industrial area, which is mostly attended by men, communication has always taken on an adversarial tone, because they still see us "out of the box." The challenges of communication and negotiation are in our daily life as well as in the key moments of our job. The Negotiation Lab training has helped me to be more confident in my abilities to solve unexpected situations, having to adapt my own pre-conceived ideas of myself to the ideas of the people with whom I negotiate.”               - Ana, Petrochemical Service Engineer in Portugal


“Women definitely have a different approach to negotiations than men. During my Executive MBA study at the University of Kent in England, the Negotiation Lab taught us how to use our strengths in negotiating smoothly, understanding the diversity in our societies but to remain firm in our decisions. It was an excellent experience within the multidisciplinary and multicultural group.” - Lilliana, Doctor in Paris


“As a lawyer working in the city on large mergers and acquisitions, it is not unusual to find myself the only female at the negotiation table. In an environment where there are few female role models, it is important to find a style that works comfortably for you as what works for a man may not necessarily work for a woman. The Negotiation Lab conducts a series of back-to-back simulations in a classroom or online environment which helps you find the negotiation style that works for you. Samuel Passow is a wonderful instructor and what he and his team have to share is endlessly informative.”  -Sally, Senior Solicitor in London

Negotiation Strategies for Women

The #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have created an unparalleled awareness among women all over the world for the need to develop coping capabilities in the face of gender discrimination and harassment issues in the workplace.

Promoting negotiation skills for women helps organizations achieve gender diversity at all levels of business, particularly at senior levels. This is considered a critical requirement for strong organizational performance, but often disregarded. Organizations that achieve gender diversity at management levels enjoy increased innovation, creativity and improved decision-making.

Fact: There is no evidence to suggest that women’s abilities to negotiate successfully are any different from men’s.

Yet scientific studies such as those conducted at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg by Linda Babcock, author of "Women Don't Ask - Negotiations and the Gender Divide" show that women tend to negotiate differently depending on whose interests they represent:

  • When women bargain on their own behalf, for example for an employment contract, a pay rise or a promotion, they tend to ask for less than men or are more likely to accept an initial offer early on. Why does this happen? Many fear a personal backlash for behaving contrary to gender stereotypes of women as accommodating and cooperative. The social cost of contradicting these stereotypes, and violating “social norms” can be significant.  Assertive women are often viewed as being socially unskilled and unlikable. They are often termed “intimidating,” “hostile,”  “bossy,” or “selfish”. The more women anticipate this backlash, the less inclined they are to initiate or persist in negotiations.
  • When women bargain on behalf of others, for example as a team leader or as a salesperson, they are less hesitant to be a competitive negotiator and to act as assertively as a man would.  In these situations, their behaviour complies with the stereotype of women as caretakers who focus on other’s needs rather than their own. Women negotiators tend to be more successful in such situations when they use the word “we” rather than “I” because it implies that others endorse their views and that they are embedded in a positive organisational relationship.
  • Women show stronger tendencies to listen and empathize than men. When a woman brings this propensity to negotiations people are more likely to work with her in the future.  This should be identified as a key skill beneficial to her company.
  • Women negotiators are lied to more often because their counterparts tend to view them as less competent or knowledgeable than a man and/or less likely to question their lies. Learning to reality-test statements, in a non-threatening way, is a powerful tool to turn a conversation around.
  • Because women generally are more concerned about relationships than men, they tend to be more hesitant to say ‘no’. They often want to keep everyone happy. Sometimes it is necessary to say ‘no’ before one can get what one wants. If an offer is less than expected or unacceptable, a polite but firm request to improve is required. To be wiling to walk away from the bargaining table, and to know when, is essential. Integrity earns respect.

The Negotiation Lab program uses the Harvard method of “Principled Negotiation” to change the merits of the bargaining process – transforming a discussion from a purely positional point of view, to one that looks for mutual gains based on interests and needs. This way of working particularly suits women.

Program Details

The Negotiation Lab uses a combination of in-class workshops, webinars and simulation-based teaching using a video-chat platform to give women the opportunity to try out different bargaining strategies and tactics that they might not ordinarily use - in a safe environment - without fear of repercussion.

  • Personalized coaching: Each 30-minute negotiation simulation is also observed in real-time by a Negotiation Lab trainer. This is followed by a 30-minute discussion between the trainer, you and your the counterpart on how effective your performance was. All three parties see each other on the same screen.
  • Each person will do three Harvard Law School simulated negotiations with a different partner each time over a three-month period. This will give you a range of feedback from which you can learn which strategies and tactics used proved most effective.
  • At the end of each negotiation, each person will receive a written evaluation by the Negotiation Lab of their performance in the simulation. They will also receive the outcomes of the rest of the class to see how they ranked in comparison to the group.
  • Advanced readings will be sent you when you register. A week prior to the workshop, participants will be sent the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Exercise questionnaire to fill out. The data from this test will serve as the benchmark for the evaluations. The online platform will measure both your self-evaluation and that of your counterpart in the negotiation in terms of being competitive, compromising, collaborating, accommodating, avoiding, assertive and empathetic. Participants will be tested again at the end of the workshop to see how they have progressed using these conflict management tendencies.
  • Learning new preparation techniques can make engaging in a negotiation easier. Sharing the right information provides a focus for the negotiation and reduces the need for strong, aggressive bargaining.
  • Having the experience of three, real-time negotiations, will build up confidence and self-esteem. It will empower women to achieve their goals: Studies at Harvard show that women are 25% more likely than men to say that they didn’t ask for a specific amount the last time they negotiated.

Webinar 1: Identifying the type of negotiator we are by comparing the characteristics and tactics of soft & hard positional bargainers.

Harvard Law School Simulation 1 – The Salary Negotiation: Rapid Leathergoods Company specializes in marketing and selling leather wallets, purses, key chains, cosmetic cases, etc. Rapid is known for selling high quality products for reasonable prices. Top Flite, the company’s most expensive line is not selling as well as expected through their mail order sales. Rapid executives believe this is due to a faulty marketing strategy. They feel that with the right approach, the brand could do extremely well and significantly increase the company’s overall revenue. Two years ago, Pat Lynch, Rapid’s Vice-President in charge of marketing hired Sandy Thomas, Director of Mail Order Sales. The two discussed the job requirements and informally set up some long-range goals for increased sales. It is now salary review time. Pat and Sandy are preparing for their upcoming negotiation over Sandy’s raise.  (Negotiate on your own behalf)

Major Lessons:

  • Dealing with power imbalance. Typical in employee relations.
  • Balancing being assertive with your ideas while respecting the normal guidelines of relationship maintenance.
  • How to anticipate and effectively respond to your counterpart’s questions.

Webinar 2: How to use key elements of the Harvard method of “Principled Negotiation” to overcome barriers: (1) separating people from the problem; (2) using objective criteria to support a point of view; (3) exploring options for mutual gains.    

Harvard Law School Simulation 2- Eazy’s Garage: Susan Garfield has a billing dispute with John Eazer, owner of a local garage, over some work done on Garfield’s car. Finding the bill significantly higher than the original informal estimate, Garfield angrily confronted Eazer. Eazer prepared a second bill at an even higher figure. Frustrated, Garfield returned to the garage after closing time with a spare key and drove her car home, without paying anything. Eazer turned to his child-in-law, an attorney, wishing to file a criminal complaint. When phoned, Garfield referred the attorney to her father, a senior partner in a local law firm. Garfield’s father is letting one of his young associates handle the case. (Negotiate on behalf of others)

Major Lessons:

  • Tension between empathy and assertiveness, especially in the context of a long-term relationship.
  • The relevance and uses of objective criteria.
  • Negotiating in the shadow of the law (and under the threat of a possible lawsuit).
  • Balance among short-term and long-term interests, including financial, relationship, reputation, and emotional interests.
  • Role of agents (such as lawyers) in negotiating a resolution to an emotional dispute between clients with a long-term relationship.
  • Questions about what constitutes “success” in this negotiation? Is it making the other side back down? Avoiding litigation? Getting a “fair” deal? What are the criteria for a “good” outcome in negotiation?

Webinar 3: Every emotionally charged conversation in a negotiation is conducted on three levels: (1) the “what happened” conversation; (2) the “feelings” conversation; and (3) the “identity” conversation. Engaging successfully in a difficult conversation requires learning how to manage all three conversations simultaneously to reduce the fear and anxiety woman face in a sexual harassment situation.

Harvard Law School Simulation 3 – Weathers and Evans: Mary Weathers is a second-year associate in the tax department at Barr & Madison, a large Seattle law firm at which Bill Evans is a partner. Although Mary has not worked with Bill, Bill has attempted to converse with Mary on a number of occasions and has invited her to dinner when they were both working late. Bill believes these interactions to be friendly gestures by a partner to a hardworking young associate. Mary, however, is uncomfortable with what she feels is unwanted attention from a male superior, who (unbeknownst to him) has a reputation as a womanizer. After several conversations and invitations, Mary pre-empts any further offers from Bill by mentioning that she has a boyfriend. Because of a downturn in the local economy, Barr & Madison is forced to dismiss several young associates, one of whom is Mary. Mary is concerned that the dismissal might be related to her interactions with Bill, who happens to serve on the hiring committee. At the same time, Bill learns that an anonymous letter is about to be published in a local law journal implicitly accusing him of sexual harassment. Bill and Mary meet to discuss these and other concerns. (Negotiate on your own behalf)

Major Lessons:

  • How to communicate when one or both sides feel strong emotion
  • How to communicate across partisan perceptions
  • How to use the following negotiating skills: framing the conversation; balancing assertiveness and empathy; listening and inquiring; sharing interests and feelings; withholding judgement; using “I” statements.

Course Materials given to each Participant (that can also be downloaded from the online platform)

  • Instruction video how to access and register on the online platform.
  • Webinars download onto laptops or sent via email link.
  • PowerPoint presentations used in Webinars.
  • Copy of  “Getting to Yes” by Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton
  • “Getting to Yes” analytic workbook to prepare for each simulation.
  • Articles from Harvard Law School Program on Negotiations (1) Negotiation Strategies for Women – Secrets to Success; (2) Business Negotiation Strategies – How to Negotiate Better Business Deals; (3) Sales Negotiations – How to Get to Win-Win; (4) BATNA Basics – Boost Your Power at the Bargaining Table

Corporate Program

  • A one-day workshop (class size – between 10 participants (5 teams) and 30 participants (15 teams) - to develop a personal relationship between the participants and the trainers; present the Harvard method of "Principled Negotiation" and demonstrate and have the participants become familiar with using the online simulationm platform.
  • Class size must be an even number to allow for pairings of the roles in the simulation.
  • In the following three months after the workshop, participants will do the three simulations online, as outlined above.  

 The 7.5 hour one-day workshop will cover the following topics:

  1. The inherent tension in negotiations – how to manage the inherent polarity that exist in all negotiations such as claiming versus creating value, assertiveness versus empathy and principle versus agent.
  2. How to map out a negotiation- learning to identify the Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement, or walk- away position (BATNA) and the zone of possible agreement (ZOPA) of all the parties in a negotiation to better define the strategies to use in the bargaining process. Only by understanding what their options are if they don’t come to an agreement, will women truly understand what they have to gain at the bargaining table.
  3. Using analytic tools to prepare for a negotiation – gaining an understanding of the key questions to consider before going into the actual negotiation, looking at issues from one’s own viewpoint, that of their counterparts, and also from other parties indirectly associated with the negotiated outcome.
  4. The negotiation proper – what to do at the bargaining table – how to set an agenda, table value creation options, explore proposals by counterparts, how to effectively use open-ended questioning techniques to draw out responses from counterparts. How to become an “active listener”?
  5. Understanding different negotiation dynamics & tactics – how to deal with asymmetries of power, information and trust. How to deal with threatening situations and unethical behavior.
  6. How to conduct difficult conversations – every emotionally charged conversation in a negotiation is conducted on three levels: (1) the “what happened” conversation – expressing conflicting perceptions; (2) the “feelings” conversation- how should I act on my emotions; and (3) the “identity” conversation - what does this say about me? Engaging in all three conversations simultaneously over such things as reporting relationships, job expectations, or interacting with colleagues, enables a woman to reduce the fear and anxiety she faces when trying to achieve better results in her job.
  7. Observing and commenting on "Caitlin's Challenge" - A Harvard Law School video of a negotiation between a woman manager, Caitlin Elliot, and her male CEO, George Baker, about a job promotion to a more senior role at Micro Enterprises Inc. The video is divided into seven parts to give the class a chance to analyze the tactics of the negotiators as the discussion unfolds.
  8. Negotiation strategies for women – how to deal with & counter the stereotypical male expectations of how women behave at the negotiation table: passive, compliant, non-aggressive, non- competitive, accommodating and attending to the socio-emotional needs of those present.

Corporate price plans vary depending on the size of the class and location.

Course Trainers: click on names for bio's

Samuel Passow,


Recommended Background Reading for the AdvanceHer workshop available on Amazon

  “Getting to Yes – Negotiating an Agreement Without Giving In” – by Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton. Published Random House, 2012

 “Difficult Conversation – How to Discuss What Matters Most” – by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen. Published by Portfolio Penguin, 2011

 “Women Don’t Ask – Negotiations and the Gender Divide” – by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever. Published by Princeton University Press, 2009

 “Her Place At The Table –A Woman’s Guide to Negotiating Five Key Challenges to Leadership Success” – by Deborah Kolb, Judith Williams and Carol Frohlinger. Published by Jossey-Bass, 2010


For further information on course dates and payment details please contact:

Samuel Passow on +44 (0) 7770372388 or at samuel.passow@post.harvard.edu