Since being a kid going to Sandaga market in my hometown of Dakar, Senegal, with my mom every week, I used to hate anything remotely associated with negotiating and bartering. As a single mother of 4, she had to care for all of us with a single salary. Which also meant that if she had to negotiate over a quarter of a cent, she would, even if that took over an hour, as her exasperated child (me) would grow impatient by the minute.
As I started my own career and forgot about my mama negotiating her heart out at the market, I also, like many other women, forgot about the power of negotiation. It took me years to realize that I actually have the right to negotiate anything I want, whether in my career, business or life in general. It’s also the case for many working women out there, and the reason why men are three times more likely than women to succeed in salary negotiations.
It seems we forget that as women, we are naturally gifted at the art of the negotiation. If you can convince a four-year old to eat his veggies, you can negotiate just about anything. So how is it that we tend to forego the best we can get at work and sometimes even in life? Are we just not good at negotiating as women? Or do we forget that we can actually ask for what we want? I believe the latter is true.
As I reminded myself that I didn’t have to settle just for what was given to me, here are three lessons I learned from my mama negotiating down a pound of bananas to feed her family:
Know your worth and add tax!
It all starts with your mindset! If you don’t know what you’re worth and what you’re bringing to the table, how can you communicate it to others? How can you ask what you want when you’re not even sure of it?
As working women, it can be easy to settle for the salary and perks we’re given. However, shifting our mindsets to understand our own worth (and add tax to it) can make a world of difference. When you know what you can contribute to your organization, your department or your business, you’re in a better position to demand it1
Take your time!
Very often, we rush into negotiations. As a result, we end up settling for less than we deserve and not getting what we should rightfully have or expect. Take your time to engage in productive and fruitful negotiations by:
- Take your time to prepare: Research your industry, business, or organization before you even sit at the negotiation table. Do you know what the prevalent salaries for your occupation are? Do you know what perks are available to you that you may not have considered before? Use resources such as com, talk to people in your target job or industry, and gather as much information as possible to know what you’re really worth and gauge what you can ask for.
- Take your time to have a conversation: A negotiation is also a conversation process. There is no need to rush into concluding any negotiations you’re engaged in for fear or looking too pushy or of losing the deal altogether. By understanding that any negotiation is first and foremost a conversation, you can give yourself permission to take your time. You can allow yourself to wait in order to make the best decision for yourself.
- Take your time to observe a pause after the ask: When you’re able to observe a pause after you ask for what you want in the negotiation process, you’re giving yourself a distinct advantage. Allow yourself this time to let the negotiation process follow its course.
Start at the top!
Many of us fail to start the negotiation process at the top. Instead, we settle somewhere between the middle and the very bottom. As a result, we get less than what we deserve. Instead, do you research beforehand and negotiate at the top of the range.
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What advice do you have to negotiate successfully as a working woman?
To Your Success,
The Corporate Sis.
Author: Solange Lopes
Solange is the founder of The Corporate Sister, as well as an author, entrepreneur and CPA. She’s passionate about helping women do work they love, build fulfilling careers and living life on their own terms.