Women, Got Negotiation Pessimism?
We know that men initiate negotiations about four times as often as women.
And when women do choose to negotiate, we’re pessimistic about how much might be available, so we typically ask for–and get–30 percent less than men.
And there you have the wage gap.
Wrapped up inside that pessimism lie all the stories of our collective experience. And even if we are fully supported with knowledge and skills and determined to negotiate on our own behalf, we are still very likely to under-represent our value.
“I was already making $75K in my present job, more than I’d ever been paid. So when my new employer offered me $90K I said yes immediately. I had no idea it was $20K less than my peers in the organization.”
That’s a refrain we hear a great deal around the She Negotiates campfire. We “had no idea” because we didn’t research, and we didn’t ask.
We all know this song by heart.
“But you know what? I don’t really care. It’s way more than I’ve ever made, and negotiating for more feels like asking for the sake of winning. Greed.”
Greed. Yes, we hear that a lot too.
But Your Pessimism is Undressing You
You’d think that all our cultural conditioning to be fair, unselfish, accommodating and collaborative would show up in our language and our conversations in a positive way.
With an upswing at the end of our sentences. But it doesn’t because we’re burying our potential and it’s inauthentic.
That downswing in our voices belies our fears limiting beliefs.
“Oh well, at least I got more than I was making before.” Or “It’s okay. I have to prove my value before I can ask for it.”
These ingrained phrases make us naked to the world, yet transparently clothed in doubt when we negotiate for our bottom line–the number just to the right of resentment.
And yet we intellectually understand that with each market-value ask we are more likely to survive the unfortunate things life delivers like divorce, or our partner’s unemployment, disability or death without unraveling our lives. That’s clear.
But it’s even bigger than that. I think we’d find a “major lift” in our negotiating voices if we knew, really knew, that with each market-value ask, we are modeling a new normal for all women that changes the economic and political landscape.
Even if we don’t see ourselves taking a personal-as-political stand or even perspective, our courage to labor for our fair market value gives us the purse and the purse strings too.
And great things happen when we run the show. With our clothes on.