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Counteracting the Hardball Tactic of the Persistent 'No' - 5 Steps to Regain Power

Why do women frequently hesitate to enter negotiations? I find that for most women, the perceived effort involved, the fear of conflict, or even the worry of damaging valuable relationships can seem like insurmountable obstacles. There's also the cultural baggage that tends to label women as 'difficult' or 'aggressive' when they do choose to advocate for themselves. Remember that even when faced with the most challenging counterpart—someone who employs hardball tactics deliberately designed to thwart you—there are strategies and approaches that can help you secure the compensation you truly deserve.

Whether you're dealing with a boss who's a seasoned negotiator or someone who just seems to say 'no' as a reflex, remember that negotiation is a skill that can be learned and mastered. The first step in that journey is acknowledging your own worth and then finding the courage to express it.

The Gender Pay Gap and Why You Should Ask even when you face hardball tactics

According to Harvard's Gender Action Portal, men are significantly more likely to engage in salary negotiations than women. The problem with this? If this remains unchallenged, the gender pay gap will persist for another 80 -100 years. Let's be honest, if your best friend were in a similar situation, wouldn't you cheer her on to demand what she's worth? Barbara Stanny, an authority on the psychology of money, discusses the group of peopple she calls underearners and emphasizes, "Without question, Underearners share one common trait—a high tolerance for low pay." The point is not to be be an underearner.

Female boxer with arms raised in sparring position
Photo by Thao Lee

The hardball tactic of the Persistent 'No'

Let's understand what this tactic is and it might just be the catalyst to inspire you to take action rather than retreating. In my experience, the hardball tactic of the persistent or repeated "No" is a negotiation strategy where one party consistently and deliberately rejects proposals, offers, or suggestions made by the other side, regardless of their merit. It's designed to wear down the opponent emotionally and psychologically, in hopes that they'll eventually give in or settle for less favorable terms.

By repeatedly saying "No," the user of this tactic aims to make the other person question the validity of their requests or even doubt their own worth or competency. The strategy banks on the human tendency to avoid conflict and our innate desire to find agreeable solutions, leading many to compromise too quickly or give up too easily.

The one takeaway is not to let the repeated "No" push you into making hasty concessions, but instead to view it as a tactic a competitive game, one that you're fully capable of winning.

So what are the strategies to win this game?

1. Identify the Strategy and Label the Tactic - Your First Move in Outsmarting this Hardball Tactic

Name it. By putting a label on it, you're not only making it less intimidating but also giving yourself the upper hand by consciously acknowledging the hardball tactic at play. When you can accurately identify your opponent's strategy, you disarm its power. Your immediate instinct might be to react emotionally when your request is denied. Resist that urge. Getting emotional could sour your professional relationship and shut down further negotiations.

2. Introduce Problem-Solving to counter the hardball tactic

If your boss is an persistent nay-sayer, try to get him or her onto your side by offering a creative solution. When asking for a salary hike, instead of accepting defeat and retreating, you can get creative. For example, you could suggest, "What if I deliver extra sales? Could that warrant a pay raise?"

3. Take a Time-Out to Counter the Hardball Tactic

The most important thing is to remember not to react in an emotional way. Sometimes, stepping back from the negotiation table can help you do that. It allows you to take a breather to recover from the "no." Once you feel that your emotions are rising, you can simply say, "it appears now may not be the best time to discuss it, let me find time on our calendar in the next day or two."

4. Invite Collaborative Solutions to counter the hardball tactic

Once you are back from your time out, it is time to invite your boss to be part of the solution. This can be a powerful strategy to steer the conversation back to constructive dialogue. Ask questions like, "What would be the best way for us to reach my target salary?" This changes the dynamic because it subtly puts the onus on them to find a mutually beneficial solution.

5. Introduce Competition to Counter the Hardball Tactic

If the intentional nay-saying persists, introduce a hint of competition. Perhaps another department or even another company has expressed interest in your skills. Use this as a negotiating tool, but be cautious. The goal is not to threaten but to remind your counterpart of your value. Here is a script to help:

Manager: I don't know, Salina. I can't think of anyway to get you to the salary you want. There is just no way.

Employee: I see. That's very challenging. Let me ask you this. Since we are at a hard ceiling, I am wondering if I should consider Marketing's request to help them with their product launch. They said that the role there would exceed my salary request. As you know, I'd prefer to stay and grow in this role, but maybe I should entertain that option? What do you think?

Many women often hesitate to step into the negotiation arena, sometimes deterred by the fear of conflict or the anxiety surrounding the conversation. But what if you knew that your counterpart was intentionally using tactics to make you feel this way? Recognizing this, doesn't it ignite a fire within you to rise up and face the challenge? Armed with the five strategies I've shared, you not only stand a fighting chance, but you also have the power to tip the scales in your favor. Don't let intimidation tactics keep you from the compensation you've earned and deserve. Harness these tools and secure your worth. You've got this.

When you are ready to bravely stand up for yourself, get this training (it's free!), "Know Your Worth and Fight for It: 7 Simple Steps to Negotiating the Job Offer of Your Dreams," This course offers practical strategies to help you discover your leverage, navigate challenging questions, and be prepared for unexpected obstacles.

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