I’m going to stick to my argument, but with a smile.
The negotiation rules can sometimes be a little different for women (I know, I think it’s archaic as well), but as I’ve been researching negotiation, one of them stuck out to me as oddly simple: be relentlessly pleasant.
Honestly, this simple concept stuck out to me because I realized how important being relentlessly pleasant is in all aspects of your life, not just when you’re negotiating your salary. My husband and I joke that he has to play the “good cop” role all the time because when I want something or things aren’t quite going my way, I can come off a little, well, fierce (and not like Sasha Fierce).
So I decided that being “relentlessly pleasant” wouldn’t be such a bad thing to try.
In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg introduced us to Mary Sue Coleman, president of University of Michigan, who uses this tactic of being relentlessly pleasant. She describes the tactic as sticking to your argument with a smile.
So if we are going to adopt the tactic of being relentlessly pleasant, how should we do that? Do we just smile and say the same exact thing we’d say before?
Ask For It author Linda Babcock gives some examples in her book. Aside from smiling she suggests framing what you’re asking for in a positive way. She suggests changing things so that
instead of saying:
“I’m the best person for the job and I’ve earned it”
Say, “I’ve learned so much in this job and I’d love a chance to do more. I’m ready to move to the next level.”
Easy enough, right?
I decided that the next time I needed to have a difficult conversation, work related or not, I’d try to be relentlessly pleasant.
I didn’t have to wait long until I needed to persuade someone to do something for me. Our internet was accidentally disconnected at our house and when I called to figure out what the problem was they acknowledged the error and said they could get it back up for me in 24 hours.
That’s a bit of a problem considering that I work from home.
My initial reaction was to be relentlessly relentless. There was nothing pleasant about it. I spoke to two people who assured me there was nothing to be done.
As I was waiting on hold for the third person I was being transferred to, I realized that maybe I should switch the frame up a little bit. Be pleasant. Smile (over the phone, yes).
So I did. Instead of saying “you need to help me with this because going without internet in my home for 24 hours is completely unacceptable and interferes with my work”,
I said “I understand that there was an issue but I’d really like to understand how we can work together to solve it. I really love your service and have had a great experience so far, but it’s going to be really difficult for me to wait 24 hours because I work from home. What else can we do to expedite this?”
I didn’t take no for an answer, but I was nice about it.
My internet was back on 15 minutes later.
I know this is such a small example and being relentlessly pleasant in the workplace can seem like a whole different experience. But practicing this in your day to day life could make it that much more natural to be relentlessly pleasant when you’re sitting in front of a colleague who isn’t being cooperative. Or when you’re sitting in front of your boss and asking for a promotion or a raise.
Start small and work up to be relentlessly pleasant, but powerful.
Have you tried being relentlessly pleasant? How did it go?