By Emma Stessman
When we spoke with the founder of Ladies Get Paid a few months back, she talked a lot about the importance of women feeling empowered to negotiate in order to get what they deserve at work.
In fact, according to Linda Babcock, Ph.D and Sara Laschever, authors of the book Women Don’t Ask, men initiate negotiations about four times as often as women. Plus, more women say they “feel a great deal of apprehension” about negotiating than men. So, guess who’s getting ahead? “Unfortunately, the way that many organizations work is that you get what you ask for,” Dr. Babcock says. “If you want a certain assignment, a promotion, or a raise, it involves negotiation. Since men are doing a lot more of this, they are getting more of these perks.”
There’s nothing pushy about asking for what you deserve, and if you’re asking your boss for an opportunity, whatever your gender, it’s completely possible “to do it in a way that is going to be seen as cooperative, appropriate, and respectful,” Dr. Babcock says.
This matters because if you’re being paid what you deserve at work, your success will help you live an overall happier, less stressed-out life.
How to do that? Prep by reading through Dr. Babcock’s five expert tips, below.
5 Tips to Master Negotiation at Work
1. Do Your Research
“How much do you get paid?” isn’t a question that typically gets thrown around in a workday water cooler conversation, so it can be hard to judge exactly how your salary stacks up to that of your coworkers––and when it might be time to ask for more.
“Part of knowing when to negotiate and what to negotiate for is really doing your homework,” Dr. Babcock says. “Often that is finding out what others earn, whether or not you’re being paid a competitive salary, and what the marketplace is earning, and then doing some calibration.”
Turn to your trusty friend, the internet, and do some research on what others in similar positions or with comparable skillsets are getting paid. “Consult various websites, industry publications, networks and gather all the information you can about what the market for your skills is,” she says. That way, you can know the right number going in, and have research to back it up.
2. Practice, Practice, Practice
Ask one of your BFFs to role-play the negotiation with you, but don’t let her go easy on you. Play out all possible scenarios with her. “They should surprise you and try to do things to throw you off,” says Dr. Babcock. “Most likely that’s not going to happen in the real negotiation, but it helps so you feel like you can really be ready for anything that happens.”
If you’re more comfortable practicing solo, try the good old mirror method. Watching yourself in the mirror can also help you figure out what the best body language and facial expressions to use are.
3. Psych Yourself Up
If the thought of a salary negotiation gives you a serious case of sweaty palms, you’re definitely not the only one. And while a little stress might actually make you more motivated to get what you want, too much can throw you off. “Psych yourself up to be in a good mood,” Dr. Babcock says. “Listen to music, call a friend who makes you laugh, go to the gym [beforehand], wear a great suit—anything you can do just to boost your mood before the negotiation is going to be really important going in.”
4. Pay Attention to Your Body Language
The non-verbal cues you give off can also play a big role in how the negotiation goes. “Leaning in, smiling, and using inclusive hand gestures are all things to bring people together,” Dr. Babcock says. “Body language that promotes inclusivity and connection is important. You wouldn’t want to go into a negotiation and point at somebody in a threatening way.”
5. Create a Problem-Solving Dialogue
Ultimatums and threats shouldn’t be your first tactic, Dr. Babcock says. “A negotiation is…a back and forth. You want to think about it as problem solving, working together, and having a dialogue. Use cooperative, problem-solving language. Say, ‘I want to talk to you about my salary,’ ‘What are the things that I need to do to get a raise?’ or ‘I’d like to get a five, ten, whatever percent it may be, raise. What are the things I need to be working on so we can make this happen for me?’”
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