Career Woman

7 Tips to help women negotiate better

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Improve your negotiation skills to advance your career and life

Research shows that women often have a harder time negotiating and are far less likely to negotiate than men, especially in workplace negotiations. According to some estimations, 20 percent of women don’t negotiate their salary at all. That’s a lot of money and opportunities for career advancement left on the table.

Why is there such a disparity when it comes to negotiation?

Many women feel that asking for what they want or standing their ground in a negotiation makes them look picky or aggressive. This attitude, coupled with evidence that women who are viewed as pushy are perceived more negatively in the workplace, creates a chilling effect for many women.  The tips below offer concrete steps to improve your negotiating leverage in any situation.

Tips to help you become a stronger negotiator

  1. Understand why you are negotiating

Negotiating requires asking for what you want and persuading someone—often someone in a position of power—to give it to you. If you find it challenging to negotiate, be clear with yourself about your reasons for negotiating in the first place. Perhaps you are seeking a promotion that would give you the opportunity to work on a project that could catapult your career.  Remembering the reasons behind your need to negotiate can add clarity and purpose to your efforts and help you stand your ground in tough moments. You’re not greedy when you ask for what you want. You have good reasons.

  1. Negotiate as if you’re negotiating for someone else

Studies have shown that women tend to perform better in negotiations when they negotiate on behalf of someone else. Sometimes it’s easier to advocate for the friend who has been eyeing that new role than it is to negotiate for yourself. When you enter a negotiation, consider how you might act or feel differently about the negotiation if you were advocating on behalf of someone you care about. In the end, this is not far from the truth: when you get that raise or coveted project, the money and fulfillment you receive often trickles down to those you care about.

  1. Be prepared and flexible in salary negotiations
  • Prepare meticulously

Spend time researching the salary for the role for someone at your skill and experience level. Know what your position is worth to the organization and what skills the organization values. Practice answering the tough questions and making your case.

  • Consider all the compensation elements that are important to you

While the dollar value of the role matters, salary is not the only factor. If your organization is unable to match your requested salary or raise, consider what other parts of the compensation package are important to you. You may be able to negotiate extra perks like flexible work arrangements, training opportunities and vacation time.

  • Know your bottom line

Things can move quickly in a negotiation and it helps to be nimble. Before you enter into any salary negotiation know your bottom number so you can stand firm and not stray from your goal.

  1. Invest in your negotiation skills

Negotiation is a skill that takes time and practice to master. Reading in-depth negotiation books and online articles or taking courses in negotiation skills can help you boost your skills. Consider each new negotiation an opportunity to improve your skills in the long run.

  1. Reframe the conversation

When women don’t negotiate because they worry they may appear too pushy, that’s not a phantom concern. There’s very real evidence that women who focus on their needs can be viewed as bossy or aggressive. One savvy way to get past this obstacle is to add a more collaborative component to the negotiation while still remaining assertive. By emphasizing how getting what you’re negotiating for can help the team, you reframe the conversation so it’s not about you, but about helping your colleagues and the organization.

  1. Pitch the facts

In any negotiation, presenting hard data to back up your ask goes a long way.  Enter the negotiation knowing your value based on your resume, the market, and the standards in your industry and organization. Couch your request in terms of how it will benefit the organization and lay out well-researched, specific reasons why your request for a promotion, raise or other benefit should be granted. Did you increase your firm’s productivity? Did you receive commendations for your efforts? Have colleagues and supervisors vouched for you? Mention these facts and frame the conversation to show how your advancement is in the company’s best interests.

  1. Invest in your negotiation skills

Negotiation is a skill that takes time and practice to master. Reading in-depth negotiation books and online articles or taking courses in negotiation skills can help you boost your skills. Consider each new negotiation an opportunity to improve your skills in the long run.

 Remember: It’s business, not personal

If you’re nervous about negotiating, remember the old adage, “it’s business, not personal.” A good friend of mine negotiated for a new position early in her career. She confided that she felt self-conscious asking for a number that she thought was fair but was somewhat higher than the offered salary. When she asked for the higher number, her future employer said no but offered additional incentives. As soon as she got the response—even though it was a no—she felt relief. Analyzing the situation later, she realized she’d been worried her employer would be angry at her for asking. But he hadn’t taken her question personally. Even though he’d said no, he’d continued the negotiation with the intent to come to a mutually agreeable result. Most people will not be offended if you ask because, well, it’s business, not personal.

The bottom line: You are your best advocate

Remember that no one except for you is looking out for your best interests and if you don’t advocate for yourself, no one will. As another saying puts it, “you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”

About Sally Kane

Sally Kane is a lawyer and content director forPaperStreet, a digital marketing agency that helps businesses with marketing, SEO and web design. She has been writing on business and marketing topics since 2004 and her work has appeared in media outlets around the world. Sally is passionate about helping women launch, expand, market and manage their businesses. Follow her on Twitter @sallyannekane.com.

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