MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski: Championing Women in the Workplace

MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski asks the tough questions we are afraid to ask.

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How can we as women overcome struggles of self-worth in the workplace?

We have to start talking about our worth to our managers as easy as we talk about the actual work that we’re doing. We have to unclutter our brains from worries that maybe people don’t like us. Women tend to worry about popularity; it doesn’t matter if they like you. They need to respect you. They need to show that respect for you in your pay check. And that needs to be okay.

What practical tips can you give women who can’t seem to break the cycle of fear and demand more money?

NUMBER 1. Stop using the word I’m sorry in any conversation for every reason. Cut it out. You are not sorry. Stop saying it.

NUMBER 2. DON’T play the victim. It’s nobody’s fault if you have problems and can’t pay your rent or can’t take care of your kids. Your work is the reason you should be paid more money. Do that math in your head, and others will follow suit.

NUMBER 3. Get used to talking in uncomfortable situations. Negotiating is never pretty. Awkward silences are a good thing, an effective tool, use them. Sit there and wait for the person at the other side of the table to fill the room with words.

NUMBER 4. And this one’s my favorite – I can’t say it enough. It doesn’t matter if they like you. They only need to respect you.

Most women don’t like to see other women succeed, so we become our own worst enemies. How can we rise above this?

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First of all, this question is 100 percent true. Women do this to each other because for some sick reason they feel the only way they can increase their chances at success is to bring other women down. All I can say is that I lead by example. I help women in a real, tangible (in the form of money and promotion) way, and sorry, but I think that helps my career.

The book touched on how working harder to get recognition is not the answer to gaining raises and promotions. This was real eye-opener! When Elle’s Carol Smith explained this, did it take you time to process and accept this yourself?

No. it actually was the most honest conversation I’ve ever had. Carol smith was talking about what we all do. We work really hard and just assume someone will notice. Men work hard too, but believe me; they make sure the world knows. If they find out that “Sam” or “Joe” is making more than them, they’ll make noise.

What were Joe’s thoughts on this project?

Joe knew my value before I did. His role in the book is unconventional. But I think it proves that he’s a smart business man and unlike many of the men in my industry, actually keeps his word. There would be no “Morning Joe” without “Morning mica,” and he was the first to know that.

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Corine Gatti
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