I recently launched a new web-based course based on my popular talk, Be Bold, Not Bossy: Leading with Humility, Tact and Assertiveness to Rock Your Career. In my pilot program last spring we spent a good hour discussing the topic of negotiation, specifically as it relates to women and why women equate negotiating salary with the discomfort of a trip to the dentist.
Our group was composed of five, successful career women, who you would never guess had reservations about showing up bold in the workplace.
One participant shared how she felt after recently negotiating for a higher starting salary. What she disclosed hit me hard and triggered a whole new way of thinking. After successfully asking for more money, this woman felt guilt. Guilt that she shouldn’t have asked for more. That she’d taken advantage of the situation. Crazy, right? She was surprised by her own reaction. But this is true, women, isn’t it? Oh so true.
A job search is stressful. No, let’s be honest: it’s up there with buying a home, giving birth, getting divorced. We like the end result—a new home, a healthy child, release from an unhappy marriage—but the process? That’s another story.
So imagine yourself in a long job search. Maybe you’ve even been unemployed for an extended period of time and you’ve finally received a decent offer from a company you’re excited to join. The last thing you want to do is introduce conflict that could potentially jeopardize the whole deal. You’re not going to negotiate and if you do, you’re unlikely to ask for the bold salary level you would in different circumstances.
On top of that, you think: Asking for more, isn’t that just a slap in the face to the person who presented the offer? Most of us were taught as good little girls to be grateful for the gifts others give us and never to show disappointment—even if we already have a Holly Hobbie kitchen set or the identical Cabbage Patch doll.
Society tells women that they should always negotiate during a job offer, but if we don’t take into account the anxiety women feel at jeopardizing something they’ve worked incredibly hard for, then we’re missing the most significant piece of this complex psychological puzzle. Add to that the layer of guilt a woman feels if she asks for—and gets!—a salary or benefits she wants, because she thinks she’s taken advantage of her new employer. How do we address all of this?
The answer lies in empowering women to see their situation through a new filter. Easier said than done, but there are baby steps that can be taken.
Here’s what negotiating really does:
- It sends a clear message to the other party that you are confident and strong enough in yourself to know that this is one of the few times in life it’s appropriate to lobby for yourself in such a direct style.
- You are not cheating your manager out of money. You’re getting the company’s financial people to pay you a bigger piece of the pie then they think they can get away with. That extra money will go to someone or something, and it might as well be you.
- Once you’re on the job, pay increases are small—really small—like 2 to 3 percent a year. Without a promotion it takes years to significantly boost your salary. Switching jobs is one of the few times you can make big jumps. Starting at $95,000 vs. $90,000 has a multiplier effect that truly adds up over the years.
- Getting comfortable with negotiating takes a mindset adjustment. A great place to start is to practice scripts that help you own your story. Women can overshare or tend to justify why they deserve something, and this weakens their effectiveness.
- Understanding where your power lies is critical to anyone entering a negotiation. When you’ve received an employment offer, the power has shifted. They want you. If you act like a jerk during negotiations, you may risk a rescinded offer. Employing tact and humility will make you appear strong and confident – someone they definitely want on their team.
- Getting clarity around what is business and what is personal is critical. Unless you’re going to work directly for the owner of a small company, the hiring manager isn’t giving you money out of his or her pocket. They’re moving funds out of an arbitrary budget the company set. The company can move funds to land you, the superstar.
I hope you’re excited to give this a try. If you would like help transitioning to confident in the workplace, email me to learn more about my new, webinar-style, three-part online course: Be Bold, Not Bossy—Leading with Humility, Tact and Assertiveness to Rock Your Career. Be bold!