Most of us would agree that negotiation is an important part of any contractual agreement, however, over half of us don’t do it. According to a survey by salary.com, 46% of men negotiate their salaries and only 39% of women. Those who don’t negotiate may not feel the apprehension of negotiation, but is the level of comfort worth the money that’s left on the table? When we don’t negotiate we could be leaving 5% to 20% of additional pay on the table as well as the percentage of incremental salary increase every year. As a compounded number, one person could be missing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of their career. With the stakes being so high, why is it that more women don’t negotiate their salaries?
They don’t want to be viewed as unappreciative or pushy. Universally, everyone wants to be liked and accepted. In 2014, there was a Sony email leak where it came to light that Jennifer Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars. She later expressed her regret and reasoning to lennyletter.com for not negotiating “I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early,” she wrote. “I would be lying if I didn’t say there was an element of wanting to be liked that influenced my decision to close the deal without a real fight.” She also said she didn’t want to seem “difficult” or “spoiled.”
They don’t know how. For most people, negotiation may not be something that comes naturally. Just like trying a new sport, it may feel awkward at first until we get the hang of it. Many shy away from stepping out of their comfort zone into an unknown territory, especially when the stakes seem so high. “What if I don’t do it right and I lose the offer or I make a fool of myself?”
They have trouble expressing their worth. When a company considers giving someone a higher salary, they ask themselves “why is this candidate worth the extra money”? Many women shy away from expressing their value in an effort to not be seen as boastful.
Here are a few tips to help overcome the above roadblocks:
Do your research and know your value. Look on salary.com, Glassdoor, network with industry professionals and recruiters. Know what the salary range is for someone with your experience and knowledge. Take the emotional part out of the equation and focus on the numbers. If you’re asking for the high-end of a salary range, you need to be able to back it up with facts, both researched and based on your skills. I’ve seen many people in my career ask for a higher salary because “they just bought a new house” or “they have 3 kids”. This is certainly relevant for them but the salary negotiation needs to be looked upon as a business transition. Focus on what’s relevant to the job and what you can bring to the table.
Practice. Ask a friend to role play or sit in front of a mirror and practice the different scenarios that may come up and how you would handle them. Accept that there will be a certain level of discomfort but that it’s only temporary.