The One Thing Women Need to Know About Negotiations

women who ask

Women overall are earning about 80 cents for every dollar that a man earns. And women of color are earning even less. But these numbers may not mean anything to you personally.

Your first reaction might be, “Well, it doesn’t affect me.”

But are you sure? This isn’t an isolated issue - it impacts women globally. Do you know the gap between what you’re earning and what you’re worth?

First you might deny it, then you do some research and find out it’s true. And then you wonder, what the hell I am going to do about this?

Negotiation is the most powerful way to earn more money and close your personal wage gap. Whether you’re looking for a new job or asking for a raise, the way you’ll earn more money is to ask for it. Yet for many women, it feels like there are a lot of reasons not to negotiate.          

Is negotiation only a skill of men?  Do you have to be aggressive and hard-nosed to be a successful negotiator? Those are the common gender stereotypes associated with the act of negotiation.

And on the flip side, there’s this sense that women are failing at negotiation because they are too nurturing, too nice, or too accommodating to claim their piece of the pie.  (Yeah, that one really riles me up too.)

Most of the women I talk with: my friends, colleagues and clients say that they hate negotiating. It feels daunting and about as fun as a root canal without laughing gas or dental insurance.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Let’s throw all that stuff out along with the idea that women aren’t any good at math.

Here's the one thing you need to know . . .

As a former class-action lawyer I saw all types of negotiations and experienced the best and the worst the world could throw at you. The least effective lawyers threw temper tantrums, pounded on tables, and refused to listen all in the name of fighting for their clients.

I became a better negotiator by watching and being mentored by the lawyers in my office who listened first, asked lots of questions, and took the time to find the common ground between clients and their opponents. They didn’t try to put on some macho male stereotype. They were simply themselves . . . curious to understand the other side, open to new ways of thinking about a problem, yet still firm in their own beliefs and end goals.

So if there is one thing I want women to know about salary negotiations it is this: treat negotiations like a conversation, not a competition.

When you have a true back and forth: you’re really listening, asking questions, and reading the non-verbal cues --- that’s when you walk away with a great result.  And throughout the conversation you’re interjecting your own personality and needs into the conversation. The true sign of success? Both sides feel confident that everyone can satisfy their most important needs.

There’s no need to act like the slick bullshitter, the mansplainer, or the tantrum thrower. Awkward! And ineffective to say the least.

You know how they say that the best interviews are the ones that are like conversations?

The same is true for negotiations. Those who succeed thoughtfully prepare, gather as much information as possible ahead of time, and practice the most important points to get across.

Let's create change.

I believe that every woman needs the ability and confidence to effectively negotiate on behalf of herself and the ones she advocates for. 

Maybe you dread salary negotiations, worry that you’re not a great negotiator, or know you could be a much better one?

Maybe you’ve got some basic negotiation skills, and aren’t afraid to touch this topic, but want to up your game?

If you treat negotiations like important conversations where you’re informed, practiced, and prepared, you’ll get the result that you want -- without the pain of a root canal. In fact, you might actually enjoy it. Salary negotiations can feel daunting. But conversations? Yeah, you can do those.