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Key Takeaways

  • Life should be planned, but leaving some things to chance can lead to unexpected opportunities for growth.
  • Negotiations start with self-management and understanding the counterpart's hot buttons and triggers.
  • The biggest danger of compromise is settling for less and creating a pattern of behavior that affects future negotiations.
  • Self-empowerment is the number one trait of a good negotiator, in addition to strategies, tools, and tactics.
  • Gender-related stereotypes can limit one's negotiation potential, and it’s essential to appreciate differences and not let others assess one’s worth.
  • During salary negotiations, it is important to remember that a job title can often be more important than the pay package. A title is a valuable springboard for future opportunities.

Executive Summary:

Hi everyone! Thanks for joining us on a brand new episode of the NEGOTIATEx podcast. Our guest today is Prof. Dr. Kasia Jagodzinska, a negotiation expert who helps others boost their negotiation potential. 

Kasia is the author of three books: Negotiation Booster: The Ultimate Self-Empowerment Guide to High-Impact Negotiations, Negotiate Your Way to Success: Personal Guidelines to Boost Your Career, and The Financial Times Guide to High Impact Negotiation

She has also worked as a senior advisor to the United Nations and is the founder of Negotiation Booster, a platform that teaches innovative approaches to business negotiations. With a Ph.D. in international law, Kasia has extensive experience working in multicultural environments.

So, without any further delay, let’s explore the insights she shares in this podcast.   

While Life Should Be Planned, Some Things Must Be Left To Chance

Kasia sets the tone for the conversation by sharing her professional journey and how she ended up in her current career. She believes in the principle of randomness, which means that while life should be planned, some things must be left to chance. After finishing her Ph.D. in law, Kasia worked in the legal profession for a few months but became unmotivated and eventually quit. 

Having no alternatives at the time, she struggled to find employment. But fortunately for her, she soon found a job with a pharmaceutical company. Subsequently, she got a job offer in Paris, where her legal background helped her negotiate contracts and engage in multi-party international negotiations. 

She was then offered an academic position back in Poland and decided to pursue their academic and managerial careers. That’s when she developed a passion for business negotiations, which led to an exciting career as an author and a business negotiation mentor.

Negotiations Start With Self-Management And Understanding The Counterparty’s Triggers

Next, Kasia is asked about the people who have influenced her thinking relating to negotiation and conflict management. She mentions her mother as her first role model, who taught her the art of not compromising and not settling for less. 

Additionally, her professional mentor, who she considers her second role model, taught her that negotiations start with self-management and understanding one’s hot buttons and triggers. Kasia feels blessed to have met many inspirational people on her personal and professional journey who have shaped the way she sees the world and how she functions within it.

The Biggest Danger Of Compromise Is Settling For Less

Moving on, Kasia explains why compromise can be costly and risky in negotiations. While compromise is often seen as a quick-fix solution, she believes that the biggest danger of compromise is setting the psychological precedent of settling for less. 

When we compromise, we create a pattern in our behavior and in the expectation of our negotiation partners that we are willing to settle for less. This can lead to a mindset where we define ourselves as people who settle for less, and this mindset can affect our future negotiations as well. 

Furthermore, Kasia emphasizes the importance of not limiting what we want and not compromising on our values, as this can ultimately define how others perceive us.

Self-Empowerment Is The Number One Trait Of A Good Negotiator 

Subsequently, Nolan asks Kasia about her negotiation challenges and how she overcame them. In reply, Kasia mentions her first job, which according to her, was the most challenging. That’s because she felt she had to compromise, which indirectly affected her mental health. 

Also, Kasia mentions finding negotiations challenging when she approached them with a “knife on the throat” attitude, believing there was no other option. In these situations, she did not feel empowered and often failed. On that note, she emphasizes the importance of personal self-empowerment in addition to strategies, tools, and tactics to maximize the potential to be great negotiators.

Kasia also talks about how gender-related stereotypes can limit our inner negotiation power and advises young women to be genuine, appreciate their differences, and not let others assess their worth.

One Should Not Accept A Lower Designation In Exchange For A Higher Salary

When asked to share some key insights on salary negotiations, Kasia advises against accepting a lower title in exchange for a higher salary, citing her personal experience. She believes the title one holds can be a valuable springboard for future job opportunities and is often seen as a key factor in their CV. 

In addition to this advice, Kasia emphasizes the importance of having high expectations and not compromising them during salary negotiations. She suggests considering the long-term intangible aspects of a job negotiation, such as the title, as they can offset potential concessions made on the salary.

Kasia, Aram, and Nolan explore a lot more on this episode of the NEGOTIATEx Podcast. Write to us at team@negotiatex.com and share your thoughts on this very informational podcast episode. And be sure to stay tuned for part B. 

Thank you for listening!


Nolan Martin : Hello and welcome to the NEGOTIATEx podcast. I'm your co-host and co-founder Nolan Martin. With me today is my good friend, co-host, co-founder, Aram Donigian. Would you like to introduce our guest for today?

Aram Donigian : I will. Thanks, Nolan. Folks, today we are honored to have professor Dr. Kasia Jagodzinska. She empowers others to succeed by helping them boost their negotiation power. Kasia combines her academic background and experiences with Rich international business advisory work in the field of negotiations.

She's the author of three books, Negotiation Booster: The Ultimate Self-Empowerment Guide to High-Impact Negotiations, Negotiate Your Way to Success: Personal Guidelines to Boost Your Career and The Financial Times Guide to High Impact Negotiation. As a professor, she works with students from universities in Switzerland, France, Italy, and Poland.

She also mentors and trains executives from some of the largest corporations in Europe, Asia, the US, and the Middle East, working with these business professionals from various industries and sectors to help them more effectively manage the professional and personal challenges they face when interacting with their business partners.

Kasia served as a senior advisor to the United Nations in Geneva, where she assisted in multi-stakeholder negotiations and conflict management. She is the founder of Negotiation Booster, an innovative approach to business negotiations that leverages the task-related aspects of a negotiation with the underlying emotional factors.

Kasia holds a PhD in international law. She is multilingual and has extensive experience working in multicultural environments, having lived and worked in several countries. Thank you Kasia, for joining us today.

Kasia Jagodzinska : Thank you for the invitation. It's my pleasure to be your guest on this episode.

NM : Thanks Kasia. So I was hoping you could share a little bit about your professional journey and the path that led you to this career in international negotiations.

Kasia’s Professional Journey [2:56]

Actually, it's a very interesting story because it builds on a lot of the premises that I teach where I train negotiations according to which is the principle of randomness. You know, that life has to be planned. I believe in that, I'm to some extent a perfectionist, but also I do believe that like negotiations that require strategic planning, some things have to take their own course as well and have to be left too free, fall a little bit. I think that we're becoming a little bit too often too, too much strategic, not human enough.

And going back to my story, how it all started, after I defended my PhD in law, I found myself working in the legal profession for several months in a job that I was quite unmotivated to perform, to say, to put it mildly. I quit that job after several months in a very difficult market, and I found myself without any negotiation options, which was a fundamental mistake.

I like to talk about mistakes in reference to negotiations because I think that that's a gold mine of information of what not to do ever again. So, I found myself with, in that situation of no alternatives in a very difficult economic year, looking for alternative options of employment and professional development. And I came to be, I found myself working for a pharmaceutical company. I was eventually offered a job in a company in Paris, and I moved to Paris. At that time I was working in Poland and living in Poland.

So, I decided to move to Paris and hence I started my first international experience working as a manager. Due to my legal background, I was made responsible for negotiating contracts, engaging in multi-party, multi-stakeholder international negotiations. The company had sister companies all across the globe. So, that was pretty considerable international exposure right from the start.

And once I was working already at that company, I was offered an academic position back in Poland. So, I found myself with no options. I found myself with too many options all of a sudden on the table , which is very often the case, and we can go back to that discussion and how that relates to negotiation. And still living a little bit in remembering a little bit, the fear of having no options, I accepted that position and I found myself working basically nonstop from Monday to Friday as a manager, and then on the weekends as a lecturer and soon to be a professor.

And that's how I developed the dual track of my career. So, the academic side and the managerial side as well. And also continued and started developing my passion for negotiations and started specializing in the sphere specifically of business negotiations. So, that's how it all started, a little bit of a failure story, and then that transformed itself into quite an exciting and stimulating career that is still unfolding in many directions.

AD : Well, just by that intro, you have given us some things to dig into this tension between perfectionism and having to have everything planned out to be okay with some randomness. The learning from mistakes with which Nolan and I, as both former military folks, appreciate. Right? There's so much you said that you called it a goldmine, so maybe we'll discuss a few more mistakes and then, and then the no options to too many, right? I know no options is bad, but, but my guess is sometimes having too many options can also be challenging.

Problems With Having Too Many Options [6:39]

KJ : I think so. I think so that we suffered from that in business. Actually marketing research talks about the fact that people who are presented with too many options very often sales will drop, the activity reports will suffer because people are paralyzed by too much choice. I think that's, that's very often what we see now in the modern business world, also in our personal lives.

And I think that starting from less sometimes and slicing down the options that we have is not the worst strategy, I would say in a negotiation or maybe it's not a strategy, but not the worst starting point that there could be no matter what we think it might be. And we can go back to that as well, the psychological, how we can now, how, how do we see things in, in relation to how we act upon them, as well as something we can talk about.

AD : You know, we were getting some of your story as, and you've shared some of the events personally that were occurring for you. Also, kind of the who in terms of mentors and maybe others, you know, who's kind of had some of the influence on the way you think about negotiation, even approach negotiation, conflict management as you look back and say, yeah, that's, that's formed as I, as I put all this together, this is forming a lot of my thinking.

Kasia Mentions Her Role Models In Negotiations [7:45]

KJ : I don't wanna sound too much of a nerd, but my first, my first answer would be…..

AD : Excuse me, you, you have a PhD, you are a professor, you advise the united, you're a nerd. And, and that's okay with us. That's okay.

KJ : I think pretty much so. That is self-defining. So let's, let's, in that spirit of nerdiness, I would have to say that my first role model in negotiations was my mother back at a time when women, it was not a given that women should not compromise on anything. And she was certainly one of those women who did not compromise on her femininity, on her warmth as a wife, as a mother to me, and also as a professional career businesswoman.

And I think that shaped me. Having her as a role model allowed me to see that also myself as a female negotiator, as a female professional, I'm not necessarily have to compromise. And that taught me the art of not always seeking the easiest solution. As you can see as my intro story highlights a little bit, that failure was, there were easier options at that time.

I could have stayed in Poland, I could have stayed in that position, but my mindset was always not to settle for less, I would say. So, that was, that was the first, I would say that was the upbringing. And then my second role model was my mentor professional who worked with me. We met when I was still a student. I met him and his family, his wife, and his two daughters. And that experience shaped me because we ended up working together, not only when I was a student, but eventually also in that job that I mentioned earlier when I moved to France. And this was someone who taught me, I would say what I teach now executives that negotiations starts primarily with self-management, with managing yourself, with understanding some of your hot buttons, your triggers, the things that stress you, the things that flatter or flatten your ego, and how to then manage, manage the strategic process.

So, those would be the two biggest influences. Although there have been so many other inspirational people, I have, I call myself blessed to have met so many wonderful people on my personal and professional track that have shaped ultimately the way that I see the world and how I function in it.

AD : And thank you, thank you for sharing both of those, those examples. You talked about your mother and the idea that you don't have to compromise in Negotiate Your Way To Success. Your book, you talk about, you had this quote, which I picked up on and liked and, and it kind of gets to this idea contrary to what inexperienced professionals might think, compromise in negotiations is not a win-win solution.

In fact, it's a win-lose strategy since you mentioned compromise and limitations. Could you say a little bit more about why compromise can be costly and risky in negotiations, especially when considering our values? Yeah.

Why Compromise Can Be Costly In Negotiations [10:43]

KJ : Yes. I mean let's talk about, let's distinguish between two situations of compromise in short-term and long-term business relationships or interactions in general. Compromise is considered, at least in a theory, we'll talk about practice in a moment as a quick fix solution. If you don't have too much time, it's this cliche story of the orange, we sliced the orange in half, and then after we've divided it, you know, you all know the story, so I'm not gonna bore you with it.

However, in real life, a compromise, I think that the, apart from the strategic aspect of loss of resources or the potential for expanding the, the resource that is on the table, I think compromise, the biggest danger of compromise is the psychological danger that you settle exactly what I was saying before, that you settle for half of what you can get.

And if you listen to any motivational speakers, and I like to listen, for example, to Tony Robbins, I find his, some of the things that he has to share with us, quite inspirational, or those gurus or people who have to some extent achieved their dreams or consider themselves as successful people.

They very often talk about not placing limitations on what you want and compromise. If you do that, ultimately you create a pattern or a habit rather than a pattern in your behavior, in the expectation of your negotiation partners as well, that you will, you've compromised once, therefore why not again? And you eventually see yourself as a person, excuse me, and you define yourself as a person who settles for less and that, and that's the mindset that you bring into your next negotiation as well. That fine, if I get half, that's fine with me.

So, basically, I always say that you define your own words, and that's the starting point of the discussion, and that's how people, externally, that's the work that they will attribute to you.

AD : Thanks. Yeah, thanks for that clarification. And, and I love how you brought it back to this idea around mindset.

NM : So, Kasia, as you've navigated your own career, what have been some of the negotiation challenges you faced and what you do to successfully overcome them?

Negotiations Challenges That Kasia Faced And How She Overcame Them [12:51]

KJ : Some of the most difficult, I can't say that I've engaged in too many unpleasant situations. I would say rather than that, I still consider that first experience with that first job as the most challenging. Exactly, because I thought that I have to compromise and definitely because my sanity, even my mental health was compromised in that situation.

The most difficult negotiations by far were the ones in which I entered. I can't now specify which situation that exactly was, but the ones that I entered with the no failure is not an option type of mindset in the sense that I call it the knife on the throat attitude that you enter as if you know this is it or nothing. Which luckily in business negotiations, at least as compared to, and as opposed to crisis negotiations, seldom is that the case.

But I very often see that, that people believe, well, there's no other option, you know, this is it or nothing for me. And so on all those negotiations with that mindset, when I entered that I always failed with, with no exception, basically. So, those were the most challenging where for some reason I wasn't feeling empowered. And that reason can be very personal and those can be very personal reasons to different people.

Therefore, we talked about in the Negotiation Booster earlier, when I was designing that approach, I was pretty much looking at what exists in the market. I was thinking back on when I started to specialize myself in the topic of negotiations in the academic sphere in the research arena, but also more importantly in the practical sphere, I noticed that strategies, tools, tactics alone, are not sufficient to maximize the potential that we all carry to be great negotiators, basically, you have to combine it with also the personal self-empowerment aspect to overcome some of the challenges that you're facing.

NM : Thanks for sharing that

AD : In one of your books. And, and kind of tied to this idea of our challenges you describe having to overcome some gender-related stereotypes. What advice do you give to young women that are following in your footsteps and potentially facing similar bias? And how do all of us ensure gender stereotypes don't limit our inner negotiation power?

How To Ensure Gender Stereotypes Don’t Limit Our Inner Negotiation Power [15:13]

KJ : Without getting too political, because I don't particularly warm up to that topic, I would say that this is both, I don't want to talk in particular about one gender or the other because I think that we, I think based on my experience, I noticed that very often both genders suffer from confidence related, perhaps they're externalized in a different matter.

However, we as humanity, humankind in general, suffer from confidence related may suffer or very often do suffer from confidence related challenges to overcome that in, in the, putting that in the context of gender related and discrimination on that basis, I would say that we have to, we should not pretend, let me be more specific. This would be my recommendation. Let me be more clear about what I mean that a female negotiator not necessarily has to negotiate according to the protocol that a male negotiator would apply and vice versa.

So, I think that is important for us to be, I think what I'm trying to say is to be genuine and to appreciate our differences, embrace them as a source of diversity and not try to. A woman, in other words, as my father once said to me when I asked him, well, how should I, with, with which attitude should, should I go there in a negotiation and particularly difficult one, he said to me, with yours, you know, with, with the whole spectrum of you, as I mentioned before, I deliberately used the words in relation to my mother a feminine, I use the adjective, feminine femininity that she chose not to compromise on that.

And too often what I observe is that we get lost somehow, not necessarily, as I mentioned , the same tools that will apply to everyone, gender or regardless, because we might also talk about race.

And I know a lot of negotiators also function in that sphere. Talking about race and how race can have an impact. Those are valid problems. I'm not trying to offer a quick-fix solution. Those are valid society suffers from still very much inequalities. I've experienced a lot of them as well, a lot of stereotyping. 

My recommendation would be, do not let others assess your worth. I like to quote, Edith Eger here and the survivor of the Holocaust. She's known as the ballerina of Auschwitz in her book, the choice she shares with us, for me, unforgettable, unforgettable advice in relation to embracing who we are. She said that I was, I'm a survivor and I was victimized, but I was never a victim.

And I think that's very strong. So, a lot of us face discrimination and you can see it as being, as an event or an act that happens or you can see yourself as the victim.

And the moment that you see yourself as a victim, you start off on the path I would say, to victimhood in negotiations that very often will transform into less success that you could have achieved in a given negotiation. That would be my recommendation. And a lot of female, a lot of my students see me as someone that they can confide in. They share stories and sadly, those stories are pretty much resonated. This the same challenges all around. It doesn't matter if it's an MBA and so on. It's very unfortunate, but the biggest weapon is not to allow that to you. Only you can decide basically what defines you.

AD : What a powerful response to that question. Thank you very much. And I loved both bringing both your parents into that, the genuineness, while still embracing differences. Thank you for that.

KJ : Thank you.

NM : You've put together a good deal of key tips and tools to negotiate salary. And one key insight you have is never accept a lower title in exchange for a higher salary. Could you say a little more about why you give this particular advice and what other advice do you give for salary negotiations?

Kasia’s Advice On Salary Negotiations [19:12]

KJ : Yes, I remember this very well. This experience that resulted in that chapter. Ed was in this in this job that I, that I moved to Paris for, lacking a lot of experience at that point. That was many, many years ago. I was fresh out of law school, fresh with my, in my PhD that I had to hide by the way. I had to hide the fact my age, the gender, obviously I could not hide.

So, I had to hide the age. I had to hide also, the fact that I have a title, which to many people was seen as a little bit maybe arrogant or putting myself higher up in the, in the hierarchy, which was itself a painful experience for me in the sense that something that I've worked so hard for all of a sudden have had to be put in a drawer so that other people would not be, would not seem in a lower position, which again, was a little bit something of perception. We can talk a little bit about that.

But going back to the question, I remember that I had high expectations. So being true to what we talked about, the art of not compromising, I did have high expectations at, by some seen as overly high expectations. And at one point it came to a discussion where it was pretty much clear that I will not be able to achieve the target, the financial target that I set for myself in that particular negotiation.

As I said, having not many options, I still wanted to get the best deal, but nonetheless, I still wanted to get the job. And for some reason I had enough common sense back then. Now it's experience, back then it was intuition or common sense or just, you know, being young and pretty foolish. I figured that, you know, if I can't, if I can't get the salary, then at least let's look at the long term, you know, what will count apart from the experience, what will people see externally as a takeaway from this job experience?

And the obvious connotation was the role itself, the title. So I found myself thorough just with my mentor back then who was a very skilled and a very tough negotiator negotiating for a higher title. I specifically wanted to have a manager somewhere in that title because I knew that if I would have the manager then any other employer, the next employer who would see my CV would see that the springboard to my next position would be from the management level.

And I think we put that manager title somewhere as the fifth word in the title that I had in the contract. But it was there. So the reason that I suggest this, is that imagine that this is your springboard. There are two factors, right? Or even three. Your experience obviously is your springboard to the next type of commitments and engagements you can take on.

The salary may be, especially if it's public, such as at the UN, you have levels, United Nations level, or the EU level and so on. But also primarily what people see on your CV is your last title. And I've very often had situations where I already held a director role and I judged by the reactions of the recruiter who was trying to headhunt me, for example.

They would themselves explicitly say, of course we cannot give you a lower title. You were already in a managerial or a director role and so on. Therefore, that intangible aspect of a job negotiation in this case can offset the potential compromises or concessions, rather, the concessions that you have to make on the salary.

And I do realize there may be different objectives. I'm not claiming that financial recognition is not important. Sometimes it's a matter of survival and so on. But equally important are the intangible aspects of the negotiation, such as, for example, the title as well.

AD : I love how you answered that. And I think that so many people miss all those other things that there are to negotiate around in a salary negotiation beyond the salary or simple compensation, like you're talking about title and duties and responsibilities, the ability to travel or access to senior leaders.

And I just feel like it's, it's easy to get narrow. As you've worked with folks, how, what, like, how do you get 'em to see the bigger picture there?

How To See The Bigger Picture In Negotiations [23:27]

KJ : Exactly. But this is very interesting what you're saying, this tunnel vision, this singular focus very often on only one aspect in the negotiation. Going back to the title, something that came up when, when I was thinking a little bit when you were speaking is also the fact that it's not just a springboard for how others will assess the benchmark of how high or low you can go, but most importantly, it's also something that defines you in your own eyes. Very often, I will never forget what I was very, very young just after I defended my PhD and I did it very fast because I focused all my energy only on finishing that thesis.

And definitely experience did not go hand in hand. And I remember the first time that I was called in as an expert to the European Union on cross border mediation and child abduction.

And I thought to myself, my goodness, you know, expert level. And I definitely did not feel, I didn't feel like an expert, but I remember how that when I saw my own name, and it is it, it does obviously flatter the ego a little bit, but it also allows you to implement behaviors that support that title. And I think that is the most important aspect that allows you to stay motivated, to be motivated and to try to be better.

I know that the quality of my work in that engagement for the EU back then, I know that the quality was higher also because I was carrying the responsibility of that label, carrying the responsibility of the title. And according to me, always, if you are in a position of privilege, such as with access to expertise and I was lucky enough for my parents to be able to educate me, to be able to give me the tools for becoming who I am today.

And that is also, that carries with itself also social obligation, social responsibility for the quality of work that you do and the standards that you also introduce in who you are and in your interactions also with other people.

NM : I wanted to put a quick plug in for Kasia’s new book: The Financial Times: Guide To High Impact Negotiations. This book is available at all major distributors, so be sure to get your copy now.

Hey everyone. Nolan here. I have to jump in. In today's podcast part A of the show, be sure to rate, review and subscribe to NEGOTIATEx podcast if you haven't already. And also join us next week for part B of this awesome interview.

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