Ji Eun (Jamie) Lee

Professional Speaker & Negotiation Trainer

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Battlestar Galactica: Lessons on Confronting a Powerful Bully

Yours truly speaking at Essence Digital. Photo by Jackie Harshman.

Yours truly speaking at Essence Digital. Photo by Jackie Harshman.

I love watching TV because it allows me to see various, sometimes outrageous negotiation situations play out, all from the comforts of my couch.

I began to watch TV shows with a deeper appreciation for this after a conversation with Julie and Casey of Vital Voice Training. (Go check them out!)

They told me how, in every scene, characters with opposing viewpoints engage in dialogue, each vying to achieve their own goals. Often that dialogue is a negotiation (and you know how I love a good negotiation).

Recently, my life partner Charlie has been re-watching cult-favorite science fiction show Battlestar Galactica on Hulu. Last week I joined him on the couch for episode 7, titled “You Can’t Go Home Again.”

Near the end of this episode, there is a pivotal scene in which one of the heroes, President Roslin, speaks truth to power and negotiates with difficult people to affect positive change. I really enjoyed this and wanted to share the nugget of negotiation wisdom in this scene with you.

First, let me set the scene.

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Avoid the 3A Trap 😬😔😡

Speaking at Baystate Health Women's Empowerment Summit

Yours Truly Speaking at Baystate Health Women’s Empowerment Summit

Every time I talk about negotiation, I encounter the 3A trap.
What I mean is, someone in the audience invariably describes the 3A Trap — as defined by William Ury in The Power of Positive No — as her experience of negotiating in the workplace.

The 3A’s stand for:

Accommodate: You give in.

You say yes when you don’t want to. You take on the extra workload, but without the recognition or reward. You don’t speak up to address your needs, because you’re afraid of upsetting your boss, your partner, or your colleagues. You accommodate out of fear of losing the validation and approval of others. This is a trap I personally have a lot of experience with.

It’s the path of least resistance when you want to make sure they still like you, even when you hate yourself for having undervalued yourself.

Avoid: You put up walls.

You avoid having the awkward and difficult conversation altogether. It upsets me when other people do this to me. For example, have you ever had an important discussion postponed, only to be postponed again…and again? “Yeah, sure, we can talk about compensation next quarter / next review cycle / next year.” (Might as well be next lifetime!) Or have you ever sat in icy cold silence at the table after a topic of contention was mentioned, only to be ignored?

It can be as convenient to avoid as it is to accommodate. Why brave a difficult conversation, when you can easily hide behind a wall?

Attack: You lash out.

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Should You Negotiate for the Sake of Negotiating?

Earlier this week, I had the delightful privilege of leading Negotiation Prowess workshop for women grad students at Columbia University.

It was fun, and I dare say a success!

The individual questions from attendees were specific and challenging, and I’ve been mulling on them ever since.

Which made me see that there were two key recurring themes. Allow me to explain…

1. Should you negotiate for the sake of negotiating?

No and yes.

Let’s start with no. Don’t negotiate for the sake of negotiating. Don’t negotiate because I told you to. Don’t negotiate because your friends or parents tell you to.

Which might sound bonkers to you, especially if you’ve heard me talk or have been reading this newsletter where I stress how YOU SHOULD ASK FOR MORE.

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Vital Corps: Fabulous Femme Interview

My friend Kara Martin Snyder of Vital Corps Wellness inspires me to live a passionate life spiked with joy. Kara is a health and lifestyle strategist who has a background in startups, finance and pilates. She’s also a gifted writer and inspired speaker who infects me with enthusiasm every time I have the privilege of crossing paths with her.

I’m honored to be featured on Kara’s Project Fabulous Femme. Here’s an quick excerpt:

what do you think modern women should give less of a shit about?

Setting our future selves up for success takes focus, so that means less brain space and resources spent holding ourselves to unattainable and outdated standards of femininity. I’d love to see modern women stop worrying that we’re not thin, quiet, pretty or likable enough.

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Brags and Struggles of 2015. New Resolve for 2016.

One of my favorite things in 2015 is being a member of New York Toastmasters. I became a member a year ago and have since given ten prepared speeches and competed in two speech contests. In fact, several blog posts here were originally presented as speeches at New York Toastmasters meetings. I have a lot of devotion and a strong case of the warm and fuzzies for this club.

As the year draws to an end, I’m reminded of how exactly a year ago I got fired up for 2015 after hearing a Toastmaster speech by Danielle Mercurio. Danielle is a gifted speaker and life coach who calls herself an urban gypsy. She’s into New Age, astrology and kundalini yoga.

In December 2014, as part of a prepared speech for Toastmasters, Danielle shared with us an auspicious insight from numerology.

She said 2015 promised to be a year of great abundance. This is because, in numerology, 2015 — or 2, 0, 1, 5 — add up to year number 8. Turn 8 on its side and it’s the symbol for infinity. Year number 8 signifies “achievement, a year for making great strides in business, promotion, monetary compensation, and accumulation of possessions.”

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How to Negotiate like a Hostage Negotiator

How could you do this to me?

I slammed the door shut.

NO! I’m not coming out of this room!

I was sixteen years old, holding myself hostage in the bedroom, wailing and crying.

Mom brought her boyfriend home, unannounced, late at night, when I wasn’t ready to accept any of that.

It was a tough year. My parents separated. Mom, sisters and I moved to a new place. I had no friends, no money, no car. I felt powerless, trapped and hurt.

The wounds were still too raw.

So I resorted to stonewalling, barricading myself behind a locked door, wailing loud enough for my outrage to be heard.


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Kid in America

We are arriving fresh off the plane. We are coming to America.

It’s Christmas night, 1989. My mother, two sisters and I are on a Koreana Airlines 747 plane headed towards JFK airport.

I’m supposed to be strapped down for the landing, but at the behest of my anxious mother, I get out of my seat, scurry down the aisle and nudge the flight attendant…again.

“Excuse me but are we there yet?”

She tells me soon and “Would you please return to your seat and fasten your seat belt now?”

My ears feel clogged and uncomfortable like I’m under water. It’s my first time flying.

When I look out the window, the cityscape looks like a lit up Christmas tree.

Soon I’ll be a kid in America.

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How to Negotiate Like a Pop Star

The crowd of 65,000 that went on forever, as far as I could see in each direction… Hyde Park.

A photo posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

  • Make your position clear on a problem.
  • Be mindful of the relationship.
  • Be firm but respectful of the other side.
  • Frame the conversation for big picture thinking.
  • Flex your BATNA (Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement). Be prepared to walk away if the deal isn’t right.
  • Disagree respectfully. Generate new options kindly.
  • Accept concessions gracefully.
  • THEN STRIKE A POSE (see above for example)
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    Owning Space like a Stallion

    The ultimate example of a high power pose is the victory pose of athletes winning first place.

    by Yohei Kamiyama (Agence SHOT) ©

    by Yohei Kamiyama (Agence SHOT) ©

    Back straight, head slightly titled back, arms open wide in a V — the whole body expanded and taking up space.

    In the TED talk, Cuddy whittles down the wealth of her research on nonverbal expressions into one simple actionable advice: Before a high stakes interaction, such as job interview, salary negotiation or big presentation, take two minutes privately to stand in power pose.

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