#CREF 2020: Negotiating Your Life

SAN DIEGO–In life–just like in real estate–everything is negotiable.

“Negotiating is a skill we can develop,” said author, executive and leadership coach Meg Myers Morgan here at the MBA 2020 Commercial Real Estate Finance/Multifamily Housing Convention & Expo.

Certified in leadership and executive coaching by Columbia University, Myers Morgan leads the graduate Public Administration and Non-Profit Management program at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa. She was asked to deliver a TED Talk about negotiating tips she has learned, which led her to write a book, Everything Is Negotiable: The 5 Tactics to Get What You Want in Life, Love and Work.

Meg Myers Morgan spoke at the mPower event at this year’s CREF 2020 Convention & Expo.

Myers Morgan spoke in a special session of the Mortgage Bankers Association’s mPower network. mPower–MBA Promoting Opportunities for Women to Extend their Reach–is a place for women in real estate finance to discuss the topics that matter most to them and to build their networks.

“The catalyst to my career started at the birth of my oldest daughter,” Myers Morgan said. “My daughter is a shrewd negotiator. If you’ve ever met a child that negotiates, you know what I’m talking about. She does everything right: she knows exactly what she wants, she has no shame in asking for it, she will not wear down, she has no problem fighting for it and she never feels bad about getting her own needs met. I just assumed this was something she was born with.”

But when her second daughter was born, she was not a skilled negotiator, Myers Morgan said. “She was much more passive, more harmonious and not a natural negotiator,” she said. “But that’s OK because my older daughter trained my younger daughter how to negotiate. So now I have two little women at home; one who knew how to negotiate from the start and the other who has been taught to negotiate. This is a skill that we can develop and it’s a platform that I believe in.”

Myers Morgan compared the experience with her family to her job as a professor, “where 80 percent of the people in my classes are women and they were not as good as negotiating as my daughters,” she said. “So I took it upon myself to start mentoring women in how they can negotiate using skills I was learning from children.”

Myers Morgan cites three reasons why women often do not negotiate as well as they could. “First, oftentimes they didn’t know could ask,” she said. “Second, sometimes they are not clear on what to ask for. That’s the most common thing I hear. When you’re clear, it’s hard for people to say no to that. It’s very hard to refuse someone who has clarity.”

Third, women tend to worry too much about what others will think, Myers Morgan said. “In a lot of ways, women are more worried than men about how they will be perceived,” she said. “Whether that’s at a board meeting or at this conference or in negotiations.”

Myers Morgan said a good negotiator is less concerned about how other people perceive them. “Perceptions are unknowable,” she said. “We don’t know what others are thinking and even if we could, their perception can, should and will change. So don’t waste any time on other peoples’ perception of you.”

Myers Morgan listed three elements of a successful negotiation. “We need a reasonable want,” she said. “We need to find leverage–you are only person who can define your worth.” The third required element: “We need a mutual benefit. Too often we think about negotiation as a zero-sum game; I win, they lose or vice-versa. That’s not actually how it works. Consider who at the table might benefit from you being what you need to be.” She noted her husband once told her, “you being the best version of you is the benefit to me.”

“And that’s what can happen when you are negotiating,” Myers Morgan said. “If you get to be happy and a better worker and feel better about yourself and feel empowered, that’s a benefit to the company. A win for both is a double-win for you.”

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