Expert Advice and Strategies for Successful Negotiations

Valerie is currently the CEO and owner of Valerie Martinelli Consulting, LLC. in which she offers Life, Leadership, and Career coaching for women as well as various Management and Human Resource consulting services such as program development, management, and evaluation, human resource audits, and employee handbook and other policy developments.

Negotiation is an important subject for women in their careers, whether they are job searching, seeking a promotion, or just wanting to learn this skill. I find that this is one of the most difficult topics for women to understand and act on appropriately. Many fail to recognize that it could be years of additional work to earn the same salary as those who negotiate.

Why Should Women Negotiate?

When women do not even attempt to negotiate, they are leaving money behind. What they may not realize is that this money is not just part of your salary; it also becomes part of your retirement. Also, men negotiate at a much higher rate than women. This becomes part of the disparity as to why men make more than women. However, women should start negotiating at an earlier stage of their careers as well in order to earn exactly what they are worth throughout the duration of their careers. I emphasize learning these skills because women should practice before negotiating a salary. We also negotiate more than we think we do- in life and work situations we often times negotiate for things that we want. Negotiation gets a bad reputation with women because it can be difficult to discuss money. Women also worry about risking their reputation with their employers for fear of being labeled or being perceived as greedy.

Think about a $100,000 salary and when one person negotiates and receives $105,000 and the other does not. So, what is the cost of that? If you’re thinking $5,000- that is an incorrect analysis. When negotiating a salary, you need to consider that amount compounded and how it affects your salary, earnings potential, and retirement. When I work with women through the negotiation process, I teach them that their ask is important because it not only affects their current paycheck but future ones as well. We tend to get involved in the current situation and not fully realize that this information provides us leverage for future negotiations and our actual earnings potential as well.

What Are Some Common Errors Women Make When Negotiating?

Women are often times ill-prepared. They do not do a good job preparing by knowing how much more they want and why. They also do not know how to tell their counterpart persuasively why they should receive what they want. Women also have lower expectations. The problem with this is that when you have lower expectations, you receive lower outcomes because expectations drive behavior. Women do not necessarily receive less because they are female but because their expectations drive their behavior and the ask during their negotiation.

As you move through your career, you acquire knowledge and experience, your growth should also include some promotions, which will come with asking for a salary increase. One last error that I have seen women make is that they tend to lose their confidence. Role playing and mock negotiation sessions are very helpful to learn the proper techniques and to gain confidence prior to an actual negotiation.

When women do not even attempt to negotiate, they are leaving money behind. What they may not realize is that this money is not just part of your salary; it also becomes part of your retirement.


How Should Women Think About Negotiation?

Women are concerned with their reputations when negotiating. Research suggests that male bosses tend to penalize their female employees for negotiating in a way that their male counterparts are not. Female bosses tend to penalize both male and female employees when deemed necessary.

What women need to do is become more comfortable discussing their core competencies and why they are negotiating for a raise. It is important to be comfortable with the fact that they have earned it, deserve it, and are worthy of it. I understand that we are notorious for undercutting ourselves and settling for whatever we can get or for the greater good, rather than what works in our favor. Much of this requires letting go of stereotypes and the fear of being labeled. If we let those fears drive our thoughts, careers, and earnings potential, then we may not ever make any progress in advancing ourselves or our careers.

Women also need to learn how to take the right approach, which should be a communal one. If you don’t make it about yourself but rather about what you can do for someone else, it negates the negative reputational effects for women. This approach is effective for women because they are not as good as men at negotiating for what they want because of their expectations. However, if women are negotiating for someone else, then it can be very effective and successful strategy for getting what is necessary. Most women also believe that it is unacceptable to be greedy on their own; however, the communal approach turns it into a care-taking tactic. So, how can women make their negotiations more representative and more successful? Here are some of my top tips and strategies:

  • Assess: Is this a situation where you can influence the outcome? If not, then I advise that you should wait.
  • Plan: Negotiation can be conducted best if you planned beforehand. This is not something that should be done on the spur of the moment. Decide what it is that you want to achieve. Be sure to understand what is important to your counterpart and why they are creating a specific a problem or making a particular decision.
  • Prepare: This is a must. Use your network, seek a coaching session, do your research about the comps in your industry and location. If you are prepared to lead your counterpart through the negotiation session, then they will see why you are asking for more.
  • Package Your Issues Together: If you go issue by issue, it will seem more adversarial than if you frame them together and state the recourses that you need to be effective. Remember, your ask should be centered around what you need to help solve a specific problem that keeps you better off and your counterpart whole.

Lastly, seek professional guidance beforehand, maintain your confidence, and don’t be afraid to ask!

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