( The following is a reprint of an article I wrote a couple of years ago. It is still accurate)
It is a New Year and you are thinking it is high time I received a better salary. Would it surprise you that the number one reason why women do not get paid as much as men for the same is………….women do not ask for as much as men! Do you consider that good news or bad news? From my perspective it is good news, because it puts the power to change the situation in your hands.
Why is this? First, one of the most difficult things for women to do is to stand up in front of a group of people and state the 5 reasons why they are great or the best at their job. Yet this is exactly what you need to do when it comes to asking for a raise. In order to feel relatively comfortable asking for more money, you need to know in your bones how good you are; how competent you are. You need to be able to say it out loud.
Second, the process of setting a compensation package is a negotiation. It is deeply influenced by the perceptions of each party. Each person consciously or unconsciously is trying to see who provides more value. All other things being equal, the more your boss believes that you bring relatively more value to the job then the job brings to you the more he or she will be willing to compensate you. So your number one sales or marketing target is not the employer. It is you. You have to get very clear on your value proposition in terms of solving the potential employer’s business needs. It is not how valuable you really are that controls the situation, it is the perception of how valuable you really are.
Third, another way of looking at the previous paragraph is that the negotiation is about power. “Power” – How do you feel about that word and all that it implies? Power, personal power needs to be owned, and only you can do it for you. For a lot of reasons, as a group, men are more comfortable with power hierarchies. You can see this in young children. Social psychology experiments have shown that when confronted with failing a task, men tend to blame others and women tend to blame themselves. When confronted with success, men tend to give themselves credit and women tend to give the credit to external sources. Whether or not you consider this biological or sociological or both, this gender based differential approach to power is a large source of the pay disparities between men and women.
What to do:
Step 1. Focus on a position for which you would like to apply (or your current position if you are looking for a raise). Write out in simple declarative statements how you would bring great value to an employer for that position. Write everything out. This is no time to be modest. I would also recommend you think about your general work and relationship talents as well. If you have talent as a strategic thinker that talent can be applied in any area. Are you good at understanding the needs of others? That is an important skill in many areas. Write out as many of statements as you can.
Step 2) She who has the most information wins: Use Google or any other means to find out the pay range of the job for which you are applying or the job you have..
Step 3) Sell yourself to yourself first. Assuming that you now have a range of pay, what part of the range do you think you are worth? If the pay range is between $70,000 and $95,000. Stand in front of the mirror look yourself in your eyes and say, “I am worth $90,000” Or say, “The salary I am looking for is between $90,000 and $95,000.” Repeat until you are comfortable or at least you can say it like you mean it, even if your stomach is churning.
Step 4) While comfort is desirable, it is not necessary. There are lots of reasons why you might not be comfortable asking for a raise or a higher salary in an interview for a new job. But one thing is for sure, if you are having negative feelings it is because your body is producing chemicals (called neuropeptides) that actually create these feelings. Your body produces these chemicals in response to your thoughts, much like a habit. Even if you start to change your thinking there is a significant lag time between when you change your thoughts and actions to when your body stops producing these chemicals. The bottom line is that you need to ignore these feelings and do the new behaviors until your body catches up with the changes you are trying to make.
Step 5) Remember some people like to haggle. There are cultures where it is simply part of the process to suggest dollar amounts knowing full well, that this is not where it is going to end up. In fact, in some cultures that is considered part of the fun of it. Some people are like that as well. The bottom line is not to get insulted. Stand your ground and negotiate.
Step 6) When it comes time to negotiate about compensation, remember salary is not the only thing that is negotiable. You can negotiate vacation time, hours, fringe benefits and so on. It is perfectly reasonable to be completely transparent about your reasoning, namely. “Mr. or Ms. Smith, I think we have established that I have a lot to offer this company. I need to manage my career just like you need to manage your company. The salary and benefits package you are suggesting is on the low end of the scale, if you can’t give me a raise, I would like: a) One more week of vacation or b) to be able to work from home one day a week” and so on
Step 7) It is a performance, rehearse. Doing everything I am suggesting is not easy. It can raise anxiety. Remember the four Ps: Practice – Perception – Power – Performance. You need to practice and rehearse. Get a friend or hire a coach. Practice. Get feedback. Adjust. Practice more. Own your power. Make them perceive you as valuable. You can do it!!
Does this sound good to you, but you think you need some help. Feel free to contat me for coaching either in person or via Skype. A few sessions might be worth Thousands and thousands of dollars.
Dr. Robert Schwarz (AKA Dr. Bob) was the National Director of Mars Venus Workplace Seminars and Consulting (1998-2010). He maintains a consulting & coaching practice in Ardmore Pa. He presents trainings internationally on topics including: communication, gender differences, leadership, creativity, and advanced approaches to stress management and work life balance to government agencies, an businesses such as GE women’s Network, KPMG Women’s Network Wachovia Bank, Daichii-Sankyo, Avenits and NASA.