It is coincidental that I was reminded today about the greatest negotiations coup on my own behalf of my career, and then I saw the article that I discuss below. My thoughts about my own success at negotiating for myself was how late it had come in my career and how I wish I had learned this skill earlier. Finally, at some point, when I thought I had nothing to lose, I stepped up to the plate and risked it all for myself. Not for my client, you see, but for myself! AND it worked. It was a very self-empowering experience, and I hope you all have it, again and again and again—-and much earlier in your careers.
Check out the article, “Taking Charge:Women just don’t ask!” by Eileen Connolly-Robbins from the Main Line Times. ( http://www.mainlinemedianews.com/articles/2011/08/31/main_line_times/life/)
The article addresses the importance of learning to ask for what you want and the power of negotiation skills. It points out what we know by now —- that typically women just do not negotiate well for themselves. They negotiate for their clients, they negotiate for their children, they negotiate on behalf of their husbands and elderly parents, but they do not negotiate well for themselves. It is all a part of the greater issue that women too often put themselves at the end of the list of people who are worthy of their own time.
The author points out that promotions (and other good things in business, for that matter) rarely happen just because you are good at your job. Being good at your job is important, of course, but do not expect other people to point that out to the folks in management who make the decisions about your upward mobility and your future in the business. The article cites statistics that 56 percent of women say that they never have asked for a pay increase and that only 28 percent of women say that they ever have asked for a promotion.
As disappointing as those statistics are, it is even more disturbing and disappointing when it is compared to the way men negotiate. I love this quote, “A man will take a list of 10 skills required for a job and think he is qualified if he can do one. A woman will take the same list and find herself completely inadequate if she can only do nine.” Sounds shocking, but most of us who have been around for awhile in business know it to be true.
This disparity is especially true in the law. Women are much less likely to push the envelope for promotions or to ask for participation on big cases. They expect to be asked because of their track records, and, when they are not, they are disappointed. You must learn to advocate for yourself, and that includes negotiating for higher positions and more money. It is what the men do all the time. Male lawyers, as a rule, have absolutely no problem telling their superiors or potential clients how good they are at EVERYTHING, and you should go to school on at least some of that.
Start by knowing your worth and letting others know it also. That does not mean blowing it so out of proportion as to make it unbelievable. It means taking credit for your accomplishments and giving others the opportunity to take advantage of your talents. You are in a sales business, and you have to sell yourself.
The best advice in this article is “Know what you want and ask for it.” Sounds simple, right? Well, not so fast. The “knowing what you want part” is key, and it takes some introspection. First, you must give a lot of thought to your career goals and your career plan. Remember my book? That is what it is all about. Your career plan, your career goals and your personal definition of success can be very different from your colleagues. Pay close attention to what your target is, and then go for it. Don’t expect others to know your career goals and to help you get there. Take the position that they are clueless, and then educate them. No one listens to you if you do not talk to them.
Mika Brzezinski’s book “Knowing Your Value: Women, Money and Getting What You’re Worth” is also cited in the article. I have not read it yet, but it is at the top of my list.
I just need to get to it, and so do you.
Happy reading and negotiating!