Ask for More

Earning, like weight-lifting, is an exercise in muscle building. The first time you lift a weight, or ask for more, it stings a little, but then you realize it actually doesn’t hurt that much. In fact, it kind of feels good, and maybe you want to do it more. Two weeks ago, Levo League, a social start-up focused on building a community for professional women, invited me to host a teleseminar called #AskForMore. Watch it here. Here are my favorite bits of advice that often get the most nods from fellow negotiators in the room.

Stop searching for reasons. Asking is a muscle. There’s no replacement for just asking. You can talk yourself in and out of anything. Train yourself to ask for more every opportunity you get, just because. It’s what guys do, and it works: Young men are four times more likely to negotiate their first salary than young women, according to Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever’s 2003 book “Women Don’t Ask,” resulting in $500,000 more in earnings by age 60. Then, be quiet. We often think we need to justify our requests, or give reasons for why we want more. These “reasons” can backfire. As women are so often underpaid, you don’t owe anyone a reason. See how being quiet can be one of the best negotiating tactics to work for you.

Enough is not enough. If you ever find yourself saying “I just want to earn ‘enough’ to make ends meet,” you’re setting yourself up to consistently under-earn. With this mentality, you’re seeking your minimal pay level. Ironically, this doesn’t actually help you make ends meet because you’re approaching negotiations seeking the least, not most, your company can afford to pay you. Consider replacing how you approach earning from one of “enough” to “I’m always striving to earn more, in-line with my maximum potential.” You have to aim as high as possible to land somewhere in the middle. Why impose limits on yourself that don’t exist?

No doesn’t mean no. If your superior says no, they don’t mean “no, not ever,” they mean “no, not now” or “no, not until certain things happen.” So if you get a no, make sure you understand what no really means, so that you can turn “no” into a “yes.”

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