Negotiating as Black Woman

After a decade of intentionally negotiating, I've learned that most negotiation books don't consider the intersectional challenges that Black women encounter.


If you are wondering what Intersectionality is. It is an analytical framework for understanding how aspects of a person's social and political identities combine to create different modes of discrimination and privilege. Intersectionality identifies multiple factors of advantage and disadvantage. If this term is new to you, also explore the work of Kimberlé Crenshaw; she is a leading scholar who developed the term.


Negotiating as a black woman requires a master level of awareness of others to navigate conscious and unconscious biases. This awareness includes but isn't limited to the following skills.

  • Active listening

  • Kinesics

  • Probing questions

  • Calling bias

Let's explore these four-skill areas a bit deeper.

  1. Active listening, listening is an essential skill in any negotiation. Listening is the gateway to a clear understanding of the issues of importance on which the negotiation centers. For Black women who are, unfortunately, familiar with micro aggressions in the workplace, active listening is a tool to leverage and discern core matters that move the negotiation towards agreement.

  • Suggested Book: Active Listening Techniques: 30 Practical Tools to Hone Your Communication Skills

  1. Kinesics is also known as the skill of interpreting body language, facial expressions, and gestures. As a black woman who can have an entire conversation with my family through facial expression alone, this skill was easy for me to develop. However, using it in business and salary negotiations required me to check assumptions and use cues such as someone looking at their phone or watch to ask a clarifying question. Some reports suggest that 60% of what people communicate is done non-verbally.

  1. Probing questions, the art of asking open-ended questions, is a powerful tool to deepen understanding. In negotiations, the more you know, the better-informed decisions you can make. As Black women face microaggressions, the art of asking probing questions allows for an opportunity to challenge bias and get to the root of a matter that will facilitate reaching the desired outcome in negotiations. The probing question tool can call out inappropriate racial and gender statements while remaining focused on the core negotiation issues at the table.

  1. Calling bias related to the "angry Black woman" stereotype may be necessary as dynamic conversational behavior such as speaking with your hands can be misinterpreted as "unprofessional." For Black women, the awareness of such bias and the ability to call it out without losing focus on the core issues is powerful to reach a mutual agreement. Backlash is a common hurdle women navigate while negotiating, and of equal importance is the ability to establish and maintain respect. When calling out conscious or unconscious bias, remain in your agency by prioritizing facts over feelings. A thoughtful response versus a reaction is a catalyst to avoid an impasse in the negotiation.

  • Suggested Book: Don't Leave Money On The Table: Negotiation Strategies for Women Leaders in Male-Dominated Industries

Statement of Intention:

I intend that this article is a resource for Black women to navigate the intersectional challenges of negotiations with even greater confidence. If you find it valuable, please share it.