Women are far less likely than men to negotiate at work, which typically costs women more than half a million dollars in earnings over the course of their respective careers, according to Linda Babcock and Sara Lashever, authors of the book Women Don’t Ask.
Multiple studies have found women miss out by failing to negotiate salary, promotions and other advancement opportunities that men commonly and aggressively pursue. The reluctance of female employees to advocate for themselves is often the difference between climbing the career ladder at a healthy pace and not climbing it at all.
Here are 12 tips to help you negotiate:
Tip # 1. Heighten your expectations. Decide to negotiate.
The first step toward successfully negotiating is making the decision to negotiate in the first place. View negotiation as another method of asking. Research finds that females often are hesitant to make requests because of potential repercussions. In spite of the odds, recognize that part of the situation is always negotiable. Asking for change is a step closer to implementing change. A single action may have a ripple effect.
Tip # 2. Consider everyone who has a stake in your negotiation.
Once you know what you want to negotiate for and why you want to negotiate for it, decide who is in the position to either grant you your wish or fix your problem.
Also think about who might block your request, and what you could do to meet their interests and needs, while also meeting your own. Negotiations at work often include multiple people and occur over days, weeks, or even months.
Tip # 3. Reduce ambiguity.
Now that you have the logistics down, compile as much data as you can in order to reduce ambiguity. If people don’t have a lot of information, they fall back on stereotypes like associating men with leadership positions and assertive behavior and associating women with nurturing and warmth.
In negotiations where more information is available on the criteria on which decisions are made, the difference between men’s and women’s negotiation outcomes disappears.
Tip # 4. Enhance your negotiation through relationships.
Pro-actively reach outside of your most convenient networks to talk to men and women in different teams, companies, and industries in order to build connections and get more information.
One way to do this is simply to ask for advice. Sometimes reaching up and out can be hard, but asking for advice makes people feel important and makes them feel like they want to help you.
Tip # 5. Strategize.
Strategizing should take place at the table and away from the table, both before and after the meeting.
Before the meeting, you should be building your arguments, planning the timing of your meeting, and seeking out connections who can advocate for you or your cause. You should be continuing to improve your alternatives — what you will do if you do not come to a deal — because your alternatives are important sources of power and leverage in a negotiation.
Also, if you can “walk away” to a better option than the one available to you at your current negotiation, you should do so. It is important to be able to resist the inertia at the negotiating table if the deal on the table is not as good as you could get elsewhere.
Tip # 6. Role play.
When it comes to negotiating, one of the many things that creates anxiety and prevents women from negotiating in the first place is not knowing how the conversation is going to unfold. There are many different directions in which a negotiation can go.
Take a moment to think about these various directions, and develop responses to each potential scenario. This will make you feel more prepared for the conversation, which will make you feel more confident and comfortable.
Find a fellow colleague or friend to role play the negotiation with you. He or she should be an active listener and should challenge you with questions or objections that the other person whom you will be speaking to might challenge you with in real life.
Tip # 7. Think I, Talk We.
The “Think I, Talk We” approach was coined by Sheryl Sandberg in her book, Lean In. This approach means going into the negotiation with a very clear sense of what you want and why you want it, but in the actual conversation taking on the perspective of the people at the other end of the table and showing them why the negotiation is valuable in their eyes.
Research reveals that women who signaled concern for the organization and took on the perspective of the people across the table were far more successful in their negotiation attempts.
Tip # 8. Stay authentic.
Be yourself. Many women who sense that they may be contradicting the feminine ideal will actually respond by acting stronger and more forceful. If that’s your personality, great, but many times women change who they are in negotiations because they believe it’s the only way to be successful. Most of the time, this backfires.
If you start to say things that sound different than who you are, that’s a red flag to others, which diminishes your credibility.
Tip # 9. Set higher goals.
Don’t settle for “good enough.” We all know there’s a direct relationship between goals and end result. The higher your goals are, the better the outcome.
Ask for more and you’ll get more of what you want. Yes, it can be that simple.
Tip # 10. Remember your competence and power.
Shortly before your discussion go somewhere private — stand straight and tall with your hands upon your hips or arms spread open in a power position. This boosts the endorphins that provide you confidence and place you at ease.
Square your shoulders, maintain good posture and look the person in the eye (depending upon the cultural context) to communicate to he/she that you believe in your competence and skills.
Tip # 11. Leverage someone with authority.
This point is not meant literally, but instead figuratively. Because females are expected to be community-focused and nurturing, an outside authority source could assist in contextualizing the negotiation, and make it look to be less self-serving.
Tip # 12. Be persistent.
The majority of negotiations are complex and long; therefore, focus, and perseverance are not to be forgotten!
In today’s world, the ability to successfully negotiate is a necessity. While it’s difficult to change societal outlooks and reactions, women can learn to negotiate in ways that have a more positive impact on the relationships and people around them.