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Negotiation advice for women.

Attorney Sally Bussell | By Magi Thomley Williams | November Bella Magazine

Sally Bussell Fox has been making deals since she was six years old when she wrote her first contract in crayon. She and her parents agreed that if she earned certain grades for a specified amount of time, she would receive a vehicle. At age 16, she got the vehicle.

Often, women don’t think they negotiate, or say they aren’t comfortable with the idea of negotiating.

“Get a clue, you have been negotiating all your life,” Fox said, pointing out that we negotiate our relationships, for a car, a home purchase, for terms of employment and more.

Fox is an attorney and shareholder with Emmanuel, Sheppard & Condon, P.A., where she works primarily with builders, lenders and developers in commercial real estate transactions. A certified mediator and certified arbitrator, Fox enjoys complicated real estate and business transactions. Her legal career has thrived since 1983 in these decidedly male-dominated arenas where negotiations are a large part of her daily work.

Differing negotiation styles between men and women affect outcomes. Women and men tend to express emotions differently. When men feel at a disadvantage, they can get bullish or tough. Under the same circumstances, women typically get emotional or reserved.

“Crying is not successful … save that for later,” 

Fox cautioned. She also said that men will only focus on the win in negotiations. “Know that and use that to your advantage. Make them feel like they are winning when you are getting what you want.”

Women may focus on one detail of an agreement and forget others – but lack of attention to detail is detrimental.

“It’s not just money, its little terms that count and are important,” she said. “For example, if contracting for a commercial lease space, women often focus on the rent amount only, rather than also being aware of other provisions like repairs, signage, parking.”

Women are often unclear on the outcome they want. Savvy negotiators start with the end they desire in mind while allowing for some flexibility in reaching that desired outcome. Prepare by determining what you want and what you need.

“First, get what you need in the agreement, then go to what you want; compare that with what is fair. You will never get to an agreement if you ask for what is not fair. Fight for what is important and don’t sweat the small stuff. If it’s not important tomorrow or next year, don’t fight over it.”

Women often blame themselves if they don’t get the outcomes they want while factors besides skill and preparation affect negotiation outcomes. Fox recalled an instance when she was representing clients from the Middle East in a conflict with another group from the same part of the world. 

Read the full  article: November Bella Magazine :: Pages 44,45, 46 & 47


Meet the Author

Magi Thomley Williams is Founding Principal at Thomley Consulting. She can be reached at