A structured approach to negotiating for yourself

August 24, 2023

For IWD 2023, we (as in Navgati) asked a group of senior women leaders to answer a few questions that other women often have. The intent was to support each other as we grow and to learn from the experience of other women in the workplace. The outcome was a set of over 200 short videos, beautifully articulate and practical.

Here’s a summary of their responses to this question “What advice would you give a woman about negotiating (could be for a new role; salary etc)?”

I found all the points insightful and thought provoking – and of value to anyone who’s thinking about asking for a new role or a salary increase or new responsibility.

So here’s a structured approach to negotiating for yourself.

  • Start by negotiating with your own feelings. Think about what you’re feeling about having the negotiation conversation (scared, angry, anxious). Ask yourself what those feelings are based on; is there data to substantiate them and what the best way to respond to those feelings.

    For example if you’re worried your manager will see you as greedy, ask yourself if there is any evidence to substantiate that and if there isn’t, what you could say to yourself to manage that feeling (eg “it’s fair for me to ask for a fair increase”)

  • Believe your ask is valid; see the negotiation as a transaction between equals.
  • Ask for what’s fair – many of us think asking for more money is embarrassing. You are contributing and it’s very ok to ask to be fairly compensated for that contribution.
  • Back yourself on your potential – sometimes we worry “what if I get what I want and then don’t deserve it?”; trust yourself
  • Get out of this feeling that “I’m not a good negotiator”. Women are very good at negotiating for others; we need to recognize that we have the capacity to do so for ourselves as well.
  • Make the ask
    1. We sometimes assume we know what the response would be and hold ourselves back from even asking.
    2. If you ask and you don’t get it, you’re anyway where you are today and you would have learnt something about yourself in the process
    3. I’ve often thought that “my manager will know what I deserve and give it to me without my asking” or “if I’m unhappy, someone will see it and fix it”. Doesn’t work that way.
  • Approach the negotiation from both sides
    1. We tend to see it as needing to convince the other. Place yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask yourself what would work for them as well.
    2. Pay attention to the context – How is the company doing? What are expectations of the role? What is the culture? How much decision making authority does your manager have?
  • Prepare objectively for the conversation
    1. Make sure you’re backing your gut instinct with data. The data could be what you have done (journal your work and record the impact); could be market information.
    2. Also look at people within the organisation who are doing the same kind of work – is their profile similar? Women tend to be under-levelled so do your math before going into the conversation
    3. Think about interests more than positions – why do you want what you do? If it is to feel valued, then would you be ok if your manager was able to give you something else other than your ask that meets the need to feel valued?
    4. Ask yourself what you’re not willing to give up and what you would be flexible about.
  • Practise your pitch with someone you trust (scroll down for a couple of examples on what you could actually say)
  • Once you’ve made your pitch, don’t over explain; sit back and let the other person respond, as uncomfortable as that may be. We tend to fill space; silence can be very powerful.
  • Stay in the conversation and don’t give up – we sometimes walk away when we hear the now; it’s important to engage, clarify your perspective if necessary, understand where that no is coming from and what would need to change for that to become a yes. If someone says you’re not ready, ask “what could I be doing better” and go off and act on that
  • Remember that negotiations are iterative – prepare for each one, learn something from each and come back again to engage.
  • Follow through on the conversation – if your manager says let’s speak I three months, make a reminder to set up time for yourself

Here are a couple of sample opening statements women in this group have used:

“Based on the first quarter results and my feedback from stakeholders, I’d like to discuss an increase in my base salary by x%. This is in line with the market and my internal research – what do you think?”

“I believe I bring value to the team in these ways; would like to continue to do that and to feel valued for it and hence would like a mid-cycle increase of x%. I do want to say I appreciate all the support you’ve shown me in the past. Please do see my ask as asking for validation of the value I bring. I fully respect your decision and I will continue to be as engaged, no matter what that decision is. “

If you’d like to see the responses to the other nine questions, please go to www.navgati.in/iwd

Click here to learn more about our offerings in the space of women leadership development programs – https://www.navgati.in/womens-leadership-programs/ and write to us at deepa@navgati.in

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