Recently, I got a call from a lawyer who’d just informed a client she was raising her fees. He was not happy, but grudgingly agreed to the increase. She went into a tailspin of self-doubt. “I feel terrible,” she moaned. “My fees are fair. I’d been undercharging him. But he’s upset. Now I don’t feel right.”
My response: “It’s ok to feel bad. It’s ok to feel guilty. It’s ok to have second thoughts. Just don’t let those feelings stop you.” It may seem obvious, but to overcome underearning, you must take a stand, ask for what you want, negotiate until you reach a mutually satisfactory agreement or walk away where appropriate, no matter how uncomfortable you feel.
This comes as a revelation to some and a source of terror to most. Entrepreneurs are terrified they’ll lose clients. Employees are afraid they’ll be fired. Everyone’s scared of rejection. But this is not just about money. It’s about valuing yourself. In my experience, when you value yourself, people automatically put a higher value on you too.
Besides, your financial future depends upon it. Think about this. Linda Babcock, in “Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and Gender Divide” writes, “A woman who routinely negotiates her salary increases will earn over $1 million dollars more by the time she retires than a woman who accepts what she’s offered every time without asking for more.”
A salary offer is not a foregone conclusion. Most human resource professionals expect you to negotiate. Here’s how you can stack the odds in your favor.