Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Strategies for Negotiating with More Confidence

With all the strides made, it’s still be proven that many women aren’t paid on par with the salaries of men—for doing the same job! Since a majority of women have at least a little bit of people pleaser in them, they take what they get instead of trying to negotiate more. Tuesday, April 17th is Equal Pay Day.  It’s important to call attention to this issue. A big part of increasing your salary is not being afraid to ask and learning how to negotiate instead of just accepting what you’re given.

In honor of Equal Pay Day, I’m delighted to have Selena Rezvani as my guest today. She’s a recognized author, speaker, and consultant on women and leadership and co-owns Women’s Roadmap, a consulting firm that elevates more women into leadership through assessment, design of gender-inclusive policies, and coaching. Her clients include Harvard, Princeton, Comcast, Apple, Duke and Johnson & Johnson. Selena is a commentator on NPR’s The 51% Perspective, writes columns for The Washington Post and Forbes, and authored The Next Generation of Women Leaders: What You Need to Lead but Won’t Learn in Business School. Her new book Pushback: How Smart Women Ask—and Stand Up—for What They Want. Here’s what Selena advises for negotiating more successfully.

Proven Strategies to Negotiate Successfully?
By Selena Rezvani

You probably know that negotiating on the job can land you better pay, interesting work assignments—even a more flexible work arrangement.  Yet, how often do you choose to ask for what you really want?  If you’re like many people, you have a ready list of reasons why you shouldn’t make a request, often fueled by doubts about whether or not you deserve whatever it is you are requesting. Below are some proven strategies to help you move past inaction, getting closer to negotiation and those outcomes that give you what you really need:

1.    Set Your Sights High. Realize that people suffer from low expectations more than anything else in negotiation, a factor which makes them aim low and get too little, overpay, or paralyzes them into not negotiating at all. Always start with an outcome that would delight and thrill you, not simply satisfy you.

2.    Be on the Same Team. If you want to create a less adversarial feeling in a negotiation, consider sitting side by side when it makes sense, as opposed to face to face.  You can also use the term “we” to build cooperation, avoiding terms that evoke more of a “you versus me” dynamic.  You can buy goodwill by sharing your optimism, noting, “Thanks for meeting today.  I’m confident that we’re going to be able to come to a mutually beneficial agreement.”

3.    Don’t Underestimate Your Own Power. Sometimes a simple switch in the way we view our role can be action enough to drive a negotiation or debate into a favorable direction. Don’t overestimate the other party’s power.  Instead, see the other person in a non-deferential and a more equal, peer-to-peer way; this can make all the difference in getting the outcomes we want.

4.    Keep at It.  While in a negotiation, get comfortable drawing out the conversation – or even postponing it – if need be, rather than nodding your head in agreement or surrendering with “Okay.”  You can experiment with leveling the power by asking questions that open up dialogue. These questions deepen conversation and often resemble, “Can you explain how you arrived at that solution?” and “How could I help you feel more comfortable with this request?”

5.    Use Silence. Being quiet can equalize power and is most important at two critical junctures in a negotiation: right after you make a request and right after your counterpart answers. That means delivering our ask cleanly and clearly. It doesn’t mean hesitating afterward and adding words to lessen our request or soften the blow. We also don’t want to qualify our ask by saying something like, “if you afford it” or “I know this has been a rough year for the company.”

6.    Humanize the Discussion.  The more you can paint a vivid picture of your role and position, the more successful you’ll be in getting the other side to flex to your needs.  If you get resistance, you can elicit empathy from the other side by saying something like, “Put yourself in my shoes…” or “Try to understand my position.”  You can also ask, ‘‘Can you do any better?’’ When asked such direct questions, our instinct is often to try a little harder to help the other side.


Check out Selena Rezvani‘s book, Pushback: How Smart Women Ask—and Stand Up—for What They Want. This book is a treasure of suggestions for how to ask for what you want and stand up for you. Even guys can learn from it!

Take the 31 Days of Self-Love Challenge–a pledge to do something loving for yourself for the next 31 days–and get my book, How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways for free at http://howdoiloveme.com. Read my 31 Days of Self-Love Posts from 2012 HERE.

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