Ten years ago when I interviewed a highly successful international executive coach and author, she made that one statement that completely blew my mind… let me put her comments in context.
- Women leave tens of thousands of dollars on the table because they don’t ask or negotiate at the outset. Only 7% of women will negotiate their salary when they start a new job whereas 58% of men negotiate at the interview stage. A woman thinks “Once I start I can prove myself and if I work hard I will be recognised” (these comments have frequently been confirmed by heads of HR).
- The reason women don’t negotiate is they think it will damage the relationship, or they will be seen as greedy, or they think they haven’t earned it yet.
So here we are in 2017 and I am still hearing these comments in the mentoring sessions and the PowerUp Your Ambition workshops I deliver to young women in various levels of management and leadership. Despite being well-credentialed, smart and experienced women they seem to have a crisis of confidence in their abilities, undervaluing their worth and being either afraid to put themselves forward or not believing they deserve a promotion, pay rise or board position.
We all know the statistics – if men have 2 of the criteria for a role they will put themselves forward, if women have 8 they won’t.
So how do we turn this situation around. There are some key things I suggest as a starting point and the first is to know yourself and your strengths, do things that build confidence, learn to speak in public, learn the art of negotiation.
5 tips that build confidence
1) It’s so important to know your worth as a brand – or your product or service if you are a business owner. Many women think that if they charge a high fee or try to put their fees up they will lose clients. But it’s not what you think you are worth, it’s what your position/product/service is worth to the market. So by doing market research and benchmarking yourself against the competition, you may discover that the market rate is significantly higher than what you are charging.
2) The best negotiators know what the market will pay, they state their fee or salary expectations and then they ‘zip it’ and don’t say another word! I coach my clients to imagine a game of tennis, you don’t serve the ball and then chase it over the net. The same goes when negotiating your fee or salary. The key is to believe in yourself, state your fee and then wait to see the response. Many years ago, this technique was called ‘silent power’ and it is still the most effective part of negotiation.
3) Stop apologising – I hear people (mainly women) apologising all the time, often in meetings when they want to make a comment they start with the word sorry, when wanting to pass someone in the hallway, they say sorry instead of excuse me. We often use language that makes us sound weak, apologetic, undervalued. To me the language we use is crucial to how we are perceived.
4) Social skills – Those who have mastered these skills make people feel comfortable around them. They are more relaxed, look you in the eye, smile, and make you feel as though you are the most important person in the room… and they have excellent listening skills.
5) How you describe yourself and what you do is one of the key aspects of your success. Invest time in developing a good introduction. I suggest three parts:
i) Who you are (your name). Always use first and last name when introducing yourself and when answering the phone – it makes you sound more confident.
ii) What you do …not just your role or position in an organisation but the benefit of the work you do – this really helps when you want people to refer work to you.
iii) What you love about it or what led you to it… this is where you capture their attention and become more memorable – and it’s what makes people want to know you or do business with you.