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July 13, 2021

The Golden Rule of Negotiating as a Woman

Now that I’ve been at this for almost a decade (yikes!), people are curious – what is your number one tip for negotiating?

Without a doubt, it’s ask communally.  Here’s why. 

There’s a societal perception that women are meant to care for others.  This is something I really like about myself – my ability to empathize and (hopefully!) help.  But the value I place on others does not mean that I want to be undervalued.

There is also a society perception that negotiating is an aggressive battle – that there is a winner and a loser.  Pretty counter to “caring about others”.

Finally, to further complicate matters, violating societal perceptions can result in backlash.  You’re no longer invited to drinks with the decision-makers.  Your name isn’t coming up in promotion discussions the way it used to.  You’re no longer getting the top folks on your team. 

The solution? Ask communally.  When you ask for something, highlight the benefits for others.  By doing this, you can value yourself appropriately while still showing that others ARE important to you.

Well this sounds awesome, but how in the world do you actually do it?

Good news – there’s a formula. 

Your past performance + future vision + the ask.

Your past performance = much like you would in a job interview or at annual reviews, it’s important to have a sound bite that illustrates your value.  Beat last year’s target by 10%?  Brought in two new accounts? Wrapped up that project a month earlier than expected?

Future vision = highlight something the company really wants, like exceeding the sales goal, or locking in that new partnership.  

The ask = what you need to achieve that future vision, like additional support, training, or a new title.

Let’s take the example of someone who wants additional administrative support.  She could say, “I’m working crazy hours and I need a new assistant”, but that’s all about her.  Alternatively, she could say, “This year my team was able to outperform the company average by 10%.  I believe we can double that next year but would need additional administrative headcount so we can focus on the highest value items.” BINGO!  She wants to do even more for the company? Count me in!

Pro tip: After asking, STOP TALKING.  In an attempt to make the other party comfortable, women tend to continue talking afterwards and end up just negotiating against themselves.  The silence may be uncomfortable, but it’s necessary.

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