Why Do We Suck at Advocating Our Value for Money?

Why Do We Suck at Advocating Our Value for Money?

Podcast Ep.12 (1).jpg

But first a reality check: Is it true that women don't like to negotiate for ourselves?

And why do we still choose to believe that we suck at negotiating for money?

I look at my own career for answers and explanations. 



But first a reality check: Is it true that women don't like to negotiate for ourselves?

Last week, I gave a keynote on the topic of negotiation for Women in Auto at the NY Auto Show.

Before I went on stage, organizer asked the audience, “How many of you enjoy negotiating?”

To her surprise, half the room raise their hands.

Some women do enjoy negotiating. In October 2017, Wall Street Journal reported that more women are asking for raises than before. Lean In published a similar report.

With Equal Pay Day around the block and the gender wage gap pressing on our minds, it may not seem that the tide is rising fast enough for women, but I believe the tide is changing. Slowly but surely.

Why do we still choose to believe that we suck at negotiating?

I don’t have to look too far for an answer.

When I look back on my own career, I see that I did once dread negotiating my salary.

Mostly because I had no idea...

  • What it is (a conversation that leads to an agreement), 
  • How to do it (like a human being engaging with another human being through language) and 
  • Why I had to do it (because my career is mine to grow and develop, and getting paid my worth feels incredibly good, and when I feel good I do even better work) 

From my personal experience having bungled salary negotiation in epic style, I see that I was once under the spell of Tiara Syndrome.

Have you heard of the Tiara Syndrome?

It’s when you believe that if you just keep your head down and do really good work, some authority figure will come and place a tiara on your head.

You know, like in a fairy tale.

In this fairy tale, it would be unbecoming, or unladylike, to speak up, “ruffle feathers”, or “make waves.” Fairy tale princess (or prince) would never stoop so low to advocate for the value of her contributions.

I’ve certainly fallen under the spell of this Tiara Syndrome.

Early in my career, I once worked as a buyer for a fast growing beauty company. I came up with a plan that had the potential to save the company $100K.

I got to present this plan to the big shots in a boardroom. Everyone in the senior management team was there. After that I was on a high.

I thought, “This is it! This is how I’m going to be promoted and get a big raise. Things are made for me.”

So, I didn’t ask.

Because I thought someone was going to place a tiara on my head. Yes, I was that naive.

Can you guess what actually happened?

No promotion. No raise. Just a pat on the back. “Good job. Keep it up.”

Hey, but I get it. I relate to my clients who seek my help with this stuff. It IS uncomfortable to advocate for our value...especially for more money.

After all, we’re socialized to think that recognition for our value is supposed to come from OUTSIDE of us.

The tiara, the validation, the praise, and the money -- we think it's supposed to come from external forces, or figures to whom we assign power and authority.

Here’s the thing, though:

Owning our value, creating value, and advocating for our value -- it starts from WITHIN us.

It starts with YOU being kind to you.

It starts with YOU investing in your growth.

It starts with YOU honoring what feels good from the inside.

It starts with YOU dreaming of what is possible from that feel-good place.

It starts with YOU creating solutions in your mind that helps other people, and THAT, my friends, is the definition of value that results in money.

Value that generates money is in creating solutions that benefits others.

So how do we get the gumption and the guts to negotiate for money?

Tactically, don't give a range if you want to get something in the middle. The bottom number in your range will become your starting number.

Not because employers are evil, but because it's in there interest to retain the best talent for as little money as possible.

Find your target number, go a step or two higher and anchor there. If you'd be happy with $100K, then ask for $120K. If you want $150K, then ask for $175K.

After all, you'll only be negotiated down from there.

But most importantly, focus first on value, not money.

If you create value for other people, money will follow.

I once heard that it was extremely hard to keep Mother Teresa and Ghandi poor because they generated tremendous value for other people even though they committed their lives to live in poverty.

So to become a powerful negotiator, create value. Create solutions that help others and own your value.

Don't apologize for being awesome. State your unique value. 

Know your target, anchor high, and make your ambitious ask for more money. 

Because if you're creating value in the world, money will follow, like a magnet. 

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