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10 mistakes women make while negotiating salaries

salary negotiation

Salary discussions can be awkward in the best of circumstances, but research shows that women find them especially difficult.

Linda C. Babcock, who co-founded Carnegie Mellon’s Negotiation Academy for Women and co-authored of Women Don’t Ask and Ask For It, found that women are more pessimistic when they negotiate and get 30% lesser than men when they do. That’s held up by our research: Monster Salary Index reveals the gender pay gap is 27% in India. Men, on the other hand, have no problem talking money. Babcock’s study shows they initiate negotiations about four times as often as women.

Whether you are hesitant to ask for what you deserve or are uncomfortable with the idea of rejecting an offer, know that at the negotiation table, your actions speak louder than words. While talking money, know you may be making these mistakes:

You are underestimating yourself
Research has shown that men overestimate their abilities and women commonly underestimate theirs when asked to self-assess themselves. Continuing lower expectations lead to steadily lower outcomes. This leaves women trapped in a vicious cycle; they work harder, are paid lesser and get more frustrated!

The first offer is the one you accept
Lee E. Miller, who has co-authored A Woman’s Guide to Successful Negotiating with his daughter Jessica, says his experience has shown that women “simply accept the first offer”. By nature, they don’t like the back and forth involved in salary negotiations and tend to cave in.

“What’s fair” is your negotiation tactic
Whether you’re negotiating for a higher salary in a new job or seeking a raise, don’t use the word “fair”. Miller believes that women look for a “fair outcome” when negotiating as compared to men who look at negotiation as a contest with a goal to get the “best outcome”.

You wait for the “right time” to have a salary discussion
Even after a woman accepts a position without negotiating, she convinces herself that she will “prove her worth” and then ask for a raise. Why should you start on a low salary and then pitch for a raise on that base? Remember, there is no right time to ask for the compensation you deserve, only the moment when the opportunity presents itself.

You’re unable to say ‘No’
Saying no, women believe, is not in their DNA. Social psychologist Susan Newman, author of The Book of No, feels that women’s need to please is so intrinsic that many equate saying no with saying “I don’t care about you”. But being able to say no is critical to negotiation. It doesn’t have to be loud or aggressive no, a firm but polite no will do. But it has to be said!

Silence is not your friend
Silence is golden, they say, and there’s a reason for it. Katie Donovan, founder of Equal Pay Negotiations, believes that learning to become comfortable with bouts of awkward silence is “one of the most important tactics to an effective negotiation”.

You share information the person across the table doesn’t need to know
Women often end up revealing facts that they need not such as past salary, which really has nothing to do with your performance of the market rate. Remember not to let the discomfort make you reveal information that you don’t want to share; you can say that’s confidential and move on.

Benefits and perks are overlooked
Often, women believe that they can only negotiate the salary. But that’s not the only part of the payout where you can cut a better deal. Keep in mind options such as relocation money, extra vacation days or stock option. Every package can be tailored to suit an individual’s needs.

The subtext underlying negotiation is lost on you
Your inability to strike a deal can raise a red flag with an employer who may see your reluctance to negotiate as a question mark on your leadership skills. If you won’t negotiate for yourself, will you be able to do it for the company?

You don’t consider negotiating a skill you need to acquire
Most women believe that they are really bad at negotiation. That may be true but changing the mindset is essential. Experts say that negotiating is neither a talent nor luck, but is a skill that anyone can learn. And perfect with practice.

Women fail to recognize that every job offer or promotion brings with it an opportunity to negotiate. So don’t be afraid to ask. You may not get all that you wanted but the negotiation may surprise you. So never settle!

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in Mika Brzezinski’s book, Knowing Your Value: Women, Money and Getting What You’re Worth, said: “A lot of getting ahead in the workplace has to do with being willing to raise your hand… If we as women don’t raise our hands in the workplace, we’re not going to get the same opportunities men do. Because men keep their hands up.”

For more advice on how women can grow their careers, click here

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