She Negotiates: Recap

NAWIC Los Angeles wants to help #womeninconstruction nail it, whether their next negotiation involves asking for a raise, or closing out a project. We collaborated with WCOE California to host, She Negotiates: The Power of Negotiating Effectively, last Tuesday, September 18, 2018 at the Flight Path Museum. The panel discussion featured leaders in the construction industry, owners of small companies, and women in roles of influence. The amazing venue we selected was also meaningful, as it celebrates the history of LAX, a site for so many ongoing projects for everyone in the room.

The panel discussion was moderated by Brenda Radmacher, an attorney, mediator, instructor, and skilled negotiator, and the panelists were, Cathy Orquiola, District Manager, PCL Construction; Mitra Memari, ZGF Architects  and Carrie Schmidt, owner of BC Schmidt,

We asked some of the ladies present at the event to share their notes from that evening; and here is some of what was jotted down from that very fast-paced, engaging conversation:

How to prepare:

  • Go into the meeting knowing my absolute upper and lower acceptable limits

  • Know as many facts as possible about the person with whom I'm negotiating: do my research (see tip below.)

  • Be calm

  • Be willing to listen to the other side, so that you both ultimately leave feeling that you've each won

  • Be confident- set yourself up for the best outcome.  Attitude is a huge part of success.

  • Eat beforehand

  • Be authentic and sincere

  • If you leave a bit on the table, it will come back to you in the future, in a good way. It’s important that both sides leave feeling that they got something.

  • Go in knowing what YOU need to leave with

On asking for a salary or raise:

  • Research the going rate for your skills set, present numbers on your successes and achievements, be prepared to completely justify the number you’re asking for, to make it hard to have your boss say no.

  • If you get push-back, or nowhere, say you’ll think about it overnight, and meet again the next day.  Begin with, “I can't accept being undervalued and I believe I am.  This is why: ____”

  • It is hard to argue with logic; back up why you believe what you’re asking for is justified with facts. Be informed; use facts and logic, presented in a non-emotional manner. Remember, it’s about building lasting relationships.

  • Don't compare yourself to others, base it on the value of your own worth

  • New 2018 law: In a job interview, a potential employer cannot legally ask your current salary

  • Use reflective listening, say something like “what I hear you saying is…” or “help me understand…” and repeat back what you heard them say.  The idea is for you to show/reflect on the points where you both agree, rather than only focus on how you differ.

  • Get them to talk

  • Sit on the same side of the table if possible during the negotiation

  • Practice the negotiation or discussion - out loud! - with friends or colleagues, including what you predict will be the other person’s point of view or objections

When confronted with a sudden unplanned negotiation- it's ok to say you need to look into it deeply and get back to it at a later time.


When negotiating with a man:

  • Men say “I think” or “I know” , phrases which show strong belief and are fact-based

  • Women say I feel, I believe, phrases which show emotion and opinion. Switch to fact-based (as men do) when negotiating with men.

  • Studies show that women tend to do a better job when representing someone other than themselves 

The goal is to attack the problem and NOT the people. It is hard and it will be uncomfortable.

Work on the sticky issues together and use the word "we" a lot.  “So it appears that the issue we’re facing is _____.  How can we fix that?”

If you tend to get emotional, and feel the tears start to well up, pause, and take a sip of water. You can't cry when you're swallowing. Bring water with you into the meeting!

We’ve heard it before "nice girls don't get the corner office,”(see below), so read up on the following book recommendations.

Book Recommendations:

Finally, if you have read this far, you may want to know that there is an app that tells you anyone's personality! This will help with the “do your research before the meeting!” Ask us more about it. Email:

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Did we miss something? Do you have a write-up about a NAWIC LA event that you attended? Got a suggestion or recommendation? Please share it with us by reaching out to Barbara Kotsos ( or Jackie Rivera (

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