Little known negotiation starters that work for executive women

I'm assuming you've heard of Sheryl Sandberg of Lean In fame. If you haven't read the book then do yourself a favour and watch the TED talk or listen to her NPR TED Radio Hour interview with Guy Raz, at the very least.  

And if you are really hooked, try reading her latest book Option B about facing adversity, building resilience, and finding joy.  But that's another story.

Sheryl was inspirational for me when it came to helping women negotiate for themselves - because I felt that if she, of all people, found it tough, then it might just be quite tough. And that there had to be a better way.

We know from research that in general men negotiate 4 x more frequently than women and when women do negotiate we negotiate for about 1/3 less.  However you cannot tell me that men are setting up formal negotiation discussions 4 x per year more than women to do this. There simply wouldn't be enough time in the day and  ..... it doesn't make sense.


Casual negotiation starters for women

In fact, I think that if we were to decode these numbers, we'd find out that those negotiation conversations are just that. Conversations at different intervals and rarely in a meeting room.        

  • On the way to the car park
  • In the lift
  • On the golf course
  • Out cycling 
  • Out to dinner/coffee/lunch
  • At after work drinks
  • In a taxi on the way back from winning a deal
  • Et cetera, et cetera 

I think you get the picture.

Plus when we understand the situational context then we layer in the casual conversation starters that might go something like this -

"Mate - when are having those salary discussions? After the results we just delivered I'd be keen to bring it forward"

The conversation is more likely a casual and light hearted reminder - rather than a formal discussion or request.  

Be aware, that gendered negotiation is a thing. Some of the more direct and aggressive tactics I've heard of men using, would definitely backfire on a woman. Stereotypes, socialisation and unconscious bias abound and both men and women fall foul of it.

Once again, I'm sure you get this picture too.

Don't let no stop you asking again

However, I've also learned from a negotiation advocate for women who lead (yes there is such a thing) that when a woman is told no when negotiating for herself, she is more likely to take it as final. But when a bloke is told no, he is more likely to hear it as a "no, not right now but do come back later" and then asks again at another date.

Be that as it may, self negotiation works best for women when we are able to align ourselves with others. Why not try one of these five cheeky lines as a negotiation starter next time you get the chance?        

  • "I've checked against the industry benchmark and we're missing the mark with my salary by xxxx %  ..... Can we look at that today?"
  • "Sheryl Sandberg would be disappointed with me if I didn't ask ..." 
  • "I'd be letting all women down every where if I didn't ask for a raise ..."
  • "Given negotiation is part and parcel of my professional expertise, I'd be letting the side down if I didn't negotiate well on my own behalf"
  • "Given that advocacy is part of my role, I'm here to discuss salary for myself and my team ..."    

I even heard of one women in an initial salary discussion successfully negotiating an increase of 45%+ on the initial offer because she referred to WGEA gender salary data and then asked her potential new employer to benchmark the offer against other male managers at the same level in the organisation. Given the organisation's very public stance on gender equity, they didn't just meet her part way, they met her the entire way. (Definitely smart AND savvy).

When you refer to other perspectives it somehow lends legitimacy to your argument and demonstrates that you’ve thought this through.  And when you refer to “we” it somehow adds credibility – you are part of a bigger picture.

I know that timing will be an issue, so do be smart. Planning and preparation is critical, but do get the conversation going. 

And remember, if at first you don't succeed, do try again.

And do let me know how you go.

P.S. There is an entire chapter in my book, Step Up Speak Out Take Charge, devoted to negotiation because I believe it's that important. If we're to eliminate the gender salary gap, and make meaningful inroads into eliminating the gender superannuation gap, then negotiation 101 for women should be taught at school. Don't be a circumstantial victim. Learn how to negotiate now.

Feminine leadership superpowers + self advocacy = priceless

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #feminineambition

#success #career #executivebranding #leadership  #executivewomen #careerfutureproofing



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