Mary Redmond is known as “The Fearless Negotiator” in Kansas City circles. She tells Krista Klaus some of her secrets.
Independent Lease Review Inc. President Mary Redmond blends her more than 30 years of negotiation experience with her passion for reading body language and shares this business knowledge in workshops, webinars and one-on-one coaching sessions. Redmond recently appeared on Power Lunch to teach us how to negotiate everything from personal services contracts to home improvement purchases.
Krista Klaus: How did you get the title of “FearLess Negotiator?”
Mary Redmond: I kind of like to say that it’s not because I’m fearless. I’m not fearless. I just fear less because I know more. I developed a process for negotiation, and that serves as my guide.
KK: What is negotiating? A lot of people think of bargaining as being similar, but they’re actually very different.
MR: It’s mostly semantics. For me, in bargaining, I might be at a public place at the farmer’s market, and I am going to negotiate the price of squash. I may never come back to that shop again. I may only buy squash once from that particular dealer or that particular farmer. However, in a negotiation, I’m a whole lot more worried about the ongoing relationship I will have with that person after this specific transaction.
I recently taught for a credit [management] association. They have ongoing customer relations, and one manager said she gets five stars from all her customers. You think, “A credit manager? A five-star rating? What is that?” It’s because she listens to them, and she is concerned with the relationship, so the deal she negotiates today will set the foundation for tomorrow.
KK: So when you bargain, someone often feels they’re giving up something. But with negotiations, both should feel they have won something?
MR: You both feel that you gained some of the things you need. That’s the proof that you are a successful negotiator.
KK: How do men and women handle negotiations differently?
MR: I do a lot of workshops with women and coaching women’s clients as well on how to negotiate my bottom line. My favorite saying is, “You don’t ask; you don’t get.” For the most part, women were brought up to get along, go along and play fair. In team sports, as soon as the game was over, the guys would say, “Hey! Let’s go celebrate.” Women tend to remember the loss or the win and the score. The guys don’t so much. On the other hand, one of women’s strengths is their ability to read body language. I love to teach and work with women on how to watch their body language.
KK: What is the best tip for women and how they carry themselves?
MR: Walk in knowing you are in charge and the master of your own destiny. When you stick your hand out, you give a firm handshake. There are a number of women I met in my workshop (recently) who gave me a so-so handshake, and I stopped them right there, and I said, “Hold on. What message are you sending me? Are you powerless or powerful?” I love to get a firm handshake from a man or a woman. If a guy gives you a limp handshake, you stick your hand right back out there and let him know, “We are on equal footing.”
I had several people in (a recent) workshop from the South. We do have different geographic cultures and customs that will bring us to the negotiating table with a different opinion about a man or a woman. One of my clients said, “I won’t shake a woman’s hand unless she sticks her hand out there first.” He’s from Houston. He’s a Southerner. You have to look at cultural differences. But at my point in life, I shake every hand, and they get a firm handshake.
KK: What’s the No. 1 thing to bring to the negotiating table?
MR: It’s your mind game and that you have done your homework before you walk in the door. An unprepared negotiator is heading for disaster. You have to research the folks you’re going to be negotiating with. That’s called “Do your homework before you go to the show.”
KK: How important is it to say, “I need some time to think about this?”
MR: It’s perfectly reasonable to say, “I need some time to think about it.” There’s always the ultimate authority. Whether it’s a home purchase for a couple or it’s in a business situation, there is always a boss you have to go back to discuss it with. It could be your business partner, your colleague, even your spouse. The ultimate decision-making doesn’t have to be done on the spot. You can always consult with your advisors.
KK: So be prepared and do your research? How important is it not to insult with a low-ball offer on real estate, for example?
MR: Don’t low-ball. Don’t insult. You may not ever recover. They may be so offended that the seller refuses to negotiate with you. It’s not a sin, however, to make the first offer. A lot of negotiators say that he who speaks first will lose the most. That’s not always the case. Sometimes you need to set up a framework for the negotiations and a parameter. You aim high and move lower if you make the first offer.
KK: Tell me about your CD series?
MR: It is a two-part series. Part 1: Men And Women Do It Differently…Negotiate, That Is; and Part 2: Men And Women Show It Differently… Body Language, That Is.
Our partnership with KMBZ Business Channel’s “Kansas City Power Lunch” series on 1660AM pulls from interviews by Krista Klaus. You can tune into her show every weekday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for insight from today’s business leaders.