The 4-Letter-Word for Women: Negotiation

Girls, tell the truth. When you think of negotiating for something, whether it's a car, a counter offer on a house, or a promotion, do you get a pinch in your gut? Do you picture men, faces reddened by too many late night bourbons, eyes that squint at natural light, rolling up their sleeves and taking long, raspy breaths as they snub out their cigars? Do you imagine the c-suite filled by old bald white guys fingering a locked drawer with piles of cash who mete out favor only to those who speak their clandestine language of rewards and punishment?

That's what I thought.

What if you could learn to negotiate like a woman, and get what you want and what you're worth in the process, without stooping to the strong arm tactics of competitive bargaining? And what if you could negotiate effortlessly, knowing that everyone's needs will be met, and possibly exceeded?

Negotiation feels like a 4-letter-word to many women. It means someone loses. It means we have to say yes, yet again, just to maintain the status quo. It means we have to give in, give up, and capitulate to the stronger. It means we are worthless in the eyes of others.

Well, 4-letter-word that.

Here's the real impact of our failure to ask and why we need to get good at negotiating. According to Women Don't Ask by Babcock and Laschever, not asking is destructive on a lot of levels:

  • Bad for our health: 2/3rds of all depressed adults are women.
  • Bad for the kids: having moms who are under-earning and depressed.
  • Burden on society: since social security, unemployment insurance, etc. are linked to salary, women over 65 are more than twice as likely to be poor as men of the same age, not to mention the social cost of providing for services to the poor.
  • Bad for society as a whole: when women believe they're doing okay when they are in fact NOT doing okay, they don't complain. In the absence of complaint, the system will take far longer to adjust to the fundamental and counterproductive inequity.
  • Bad modeling for girls.
  • Bad for the economy: Women own 40% of all U.S. businesses (9.1 million woman-owned businesses) and receive only 2.3 percent of venture capital. Undercapitalization of small business on this scale (40% of all biz) means unemployment and bankruptcy.
  • Bad for business: if women chronically undervalue themselves, they make themselves unavailable to those employers who most need them; limit potential business growth and productivity; create turnover from dissatisfaction which in turn creaters more hiring and training costs, and loss of human capital.

It's bad for us not to ask. It wastes our talent and prevents us from realizing our full potential.

So, prepare to learn anew. Prepare to learn what your value is to yourself first, so it can be reflected by others. Prepare to make the biggest shift in your complete wellbeing you can imagine.