Salary Negotiation FAQs

Salary Negotiation FAQs


In the second episode of Born to Thrive, I address three most frequently asked questions that I get as a negotiation coach for women.

1. Who goes first in giving a number (you!)

2. What if my employer questions your loyalty? (They don’t pay for your emotional labor)

3. How do you respond to a lowball offer? (I offer a script for responding to this in this podcast).




On International Women's Day, I'd like to answer three most frequently asked questions I get as a negotiation coach for women. Earlier this week I got to speak about workplace culture and negotiation at The Wing, the only co-working space dedicated to women. I notice that I get asked these three questions over and over again. 

First, who goes first? 

I've been teaching and studying negotiation for over five years, and I notice that the person who anchors first, the person who tells the other side what they want first almost always has the negotiation tip towards her favor. 

Anchoring simply means you tell them what you want. Anchoring is a powerful cognitive bias. Once you drop an anchor, the conversation will tip towards your favor -- IF your anchor is reasonably ambitious. For example, asking for $500K when the going rate is $250K is unreasonable. But if you find out that the going rate for your role is $150K, then ask for $150K. 

  • Do online research to find the going market rate for your role.
  • Ask your network what they're making. National Labor Relations Act protects your right to ask your colleagues about their pay, even if your employer frowns on this. So be tactful. 
  • If you're a woman who feels she's underpaid, ask men in similar roles what they're making.
  • Several women I've talked to have often found out that their male predecessors made around $10K-$20K more in the same role! 

Second, what if your employer questions your loyalty if you ask for more money? 

Remember that your employer does not pay you for your loyalty. This is especially true if you work under "At Will" contract.

Loyalty is emotional labor. You don't get paid for your emotional labor. You get a salary for the benefit, or the value of your contributions. 

Your contributions may add to the bottom line or to prestige to the company, or help retain paying customers. For example, if you work in customer service, the end benefit of your work may be improved customer satisfaction which leads to improved customer retention. Existing customers are paying customers which means more revenue. 

So don't worry about emotional labor; focus on your value. 

Third, what if you get a lowball offer? 

So what if you got a job offer but didn't want to anchor because you were afraid to make a mistake? What if you're making $65K and got an offer for $58K? How should you respond? 

Here's my suggested script:

"This is a great place to start. I appreciate the offer and I'm looking forward to working towards the mission of your group. The thing is, I'm currently making more than the offer. So if you can increase the offer to $70K, that would help me make this decision sooner rather than later." 
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