When you think back to your last job offer, were you happy with the result? I'm not proud to admit the number of jobs I accepted without attempting to negotiate anything, only to be discouraged about the outcome later (thankfully, I've learned my lesson).
Which is why I'm grateful there are people in the world like negotiation expert Victoria Pynchon who help people — especially women — learn how to navigate the world of money and power. If only I had discovered her sooner.
Victoria is an author, attorney, mediator, arbitrator and negotiation trainer and consultant. She is also the co-founder of She Negotiates Consulting and Training and the She Negotiates blog on Forbes. Although Victoria's focus is now on closing the wage and income gap for women, she has been training lawyers and business people of both genders in mutual benefit negotiation strategies since 2005.
Here's Victoria's advice for what you should avoid saying when negotiating your salary or asking for a raise:
"I’m sorry." Women tend to apologize for things they shouldn’t. I've been known to reflexively apologize to the furniture when I run into it. Apologizing in the negotiating room lessens the weight of your argument. Stay away from saying things like, "I’m sorry to ask for this, but I feel that I deserve a raise."
"My market value is $90K/year but I'll take $70K." Don't discount your worth right out of the gate with language like, "My rate is $5,000, but I'll take $10." You are already being valued less than you're worth because you are a woman. Practice with a friend until you sound confident if you can't actually BE confident. (Fake it until you make it.)
"Yes" (to the first offer). If you aren't in a position to make the first offer (and make it more than you're willing to take) then at least don't agree to the first offer given to you. Your employer expects you to negotiate and has more authority than the first offer made. Say, "I appreciate your proposal. I did a little research on my current market value [handing the proposal over] and it's 10 percent (or 20 or 30) more than that."
"No" (if you believe you've reached impasse). The point of a negotiation is to drive the conversation to an agreement. Saying "no" closes off the conversation and makes it difficult to start back up. If your hourly fee is $350 but a potential client tells you he can only pay $200 per hour, instead of saying no, ask "What stands in the way of paying my fee?" Feel free to offer accommodations like payment over time or consider bartering services if that's possible. Always be moving toward getting the deal you want.
Question marks (upswing) at the end of your statements. This tends to be a generational tick that Gen-Y women continue to misuse in business. "Like, I said to him 'I need a raise?' and he was all like 'You're lucky to have a job' and then... "
No, no, no, no. Do not use teen slang in business.
Not only does it tend to make you appear to be immature, it destroys any attempt to project an image of authority. The person with the greatest negotiation power is the person who appears to have the ability to walk away from the deal. I put the emphasis on "appears" because thousands of in-house and private firm lawyers - both men and women - answer the question "Are you in a weak bargaining position?" in the affirmative. Eighty percent of movie studio lawyers said they lacked bargaining power as did corporate executives, mid-level managers, high level consultants, and professionals of every stripe.
Once again, if you don't yet possess confidence, fake it. Eventually you'll grow into your own power without having sacrificed raises and promotions along the way.