The last time I found myself negotiating a raise, I did pretty well.
Relatively speaking, anyway. A co-worker had told me that he’d gotten a pay increase by mustering up a counteroffer from a competitor, so I did the very same. Well, I got my counteroffer, brought it to my boss, and point blank made the case to at least match what they were offering if they wanted me to stay.
Little did I know how risky this tactic can be. In the end, I got my increased pay, but my days at that firm were numbered.
Today, as an executive coach, I am often in the wings working with superstar entrepreneurs and executives to help them get ready both emotionally and practically for high-stakes negotiations, be it on Wall Street or before the Supreme Court. And here’s what I can teach you: You can ask for way more. Go in there with confidence — especially if you are a woman on the rise.
On average, women are paid less than men for the same work and experience. When women try to negotiate for higher salaries, they’re often seen as unlikeable. And in my professional experience, I have also often observed that women are more likely to suffer from bouts of Impostor Syndrome — feelings of unworthiness or even fraudulence when it comes to assessing their professional value. In combination, these factors present a major obstacle to successfully negotiating anything, let alone salary.
Here are my top tips for upping your negotiation game.
Know your worth.
This is the most important tip. Get clear about your worth, establish it, and — once you do — stop downplaying it. The more you exercise the mindset of deserving compensation, the better off you will be. As you lean into this mindset, you will likely find that a higher compensation makes sense. You do good work, and you should be paid well. In fact, you struggling financially is of no benefit to anyone. Read books like “You are a Badass at Making Money,” by Jen Sincero; the mindset piece is the most helpful section.
Make your case.
Once you are clear on what you are worth, build a practical case for why you deserve a larger salary. Here’s the deal: Negotiation is not personal. It is business. Let me say it again so it’s clear: A business negotiation isn’t about your personal life or your social standing, it’s about business.
So, you need to come prepared with business data points to prove your worth. I leave these for you to figure out, but you can certainly pull together a case for why you are worth what you want, why it is compatible with the market, and why it would pay off with dividends for a company on the rise that merits your top-talent.
Practice your communication skills.
I wholeheartedly believe in cultivating the art of rapport, which means that you must learn how to listen and express appreciation. Share your data about your worth at the right moment — and use language and tone that show you want to work with your employer by saying something like: “I’m confident we can reach a comfortable and motivating compensation, and I want to explore and review together what that might look like.”
Show up in a good mood.
On negotiation day, your best bet is to show up in a good mood and demonstrate a can-do, positive spin and attitude when talking with your bosses and HR. An earnest, win-win approach and disposition can be highly effective.
And remember: You’re awesome. What have you really got to lose?