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You Must Negotiate

You Must Negotiate

Did you know that nearly 70% of women accept the salary they're offered and don't negotiate? The numbers are a little better for men, but still nearly 50% of men do the same thing.


I'm normally empathetic to the professional challenges we all encounter, but I just cannot wrap my head around this one. So I'm going to offer some tough love.

You must negotiate.

[Related: What You Can Learn From the Woman Changing the Job Interview Game]

I'm appalled by how many women - really successful, assertive, and confident women - never ask for what they want. These women have told me it's because:

  • The first offer they received was higher than their last salary.
  • They don't want to offend anyone.
  • They don't want to get fired or lose the offer.
  • They don't want to seem cocky or like they aren't a team player.

Look, I get it. I don't agree, but I do understand. Asking for more can be scary. But what's the worst that can happen?

They could say "no." BIG DEAL. Then you are in the exact same spot you were in before you asked. No better. No worse.

If you're hesitant to ask for what you want (and this doesn't just pertain to salary), why do you think that is? What's holding you back? Do you think you're not good enough? Do you think you don't deserve it?

I've never had trouble asking for what I want. And here's why: I work my butt off and I'm good at what I do. I produce results for my employers and my clients. And they know it.

So it's not crazy that I would want more. And I fully recognize that I may be told "no." And that's okay. But the simple act of asking, even when the answer is "no," opens up a new set of possibilities.

[Related: How My Dad Taught Me to Fight for Equal Pay]

By asking, you have put that request out in the universe, and now people know what you want. You also clearly know where you stand. And that gives you options.

  • You can happily accept the status quo, knowing you tried.
  • You can use a "no" to fuel you to make some moves and look for your next opportunity.
  • You can use a "no" as leverage to negotiate towards a lesser ask.

This last point is important. A "no" doesn't necessarily signal that the discussion is over. Often, it's just the beginning of a longer-term conversation to get you where you want to go, perhaps at a slower pace.

If the idea of negotiating still makes you uncomfortable, then start small. Try it at Starbucks. Seriously. Ask for a discount on your coffee. (This approach can also work at your favorite shoe store - I tried it and got 20% off just because I asked!)

They might say "no." But who cares? You just got practice asking for what you want.

It only gets easier and more natural the more you do it. Try it this week. And let me know how it goes!

[Related: Taking the Emotion Out of Asking to Be Paid Your Worth]


Elena Lipson is the Principal and Founder of Mosaic Growth Partners, a consulting and coaching firm based in Washington, D.C.

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