Why are women leaving money on the table when it comes to salary offers? The use of Emotional Intelligence skills in negotiating.
A close friend was offered a promotion to an executive leadership position within a Fortune 500 company. Out of concern that she would appear selfish, she accepted the promotion without negotiating any of the details upfront. After a couple of months of increased workload and no mention of a salary increase, effective date, or retro-pay, she really wanted to kick herself. As time went by, it became harder for her to bring up the topic. She was told not to worry, that she would be taken care of. Ugh! What does that even mean?
I started to think about this in a much larger context. So many of my female friends and colleagues have shared similar stories throughout the years. Many have admitted that they left a lot of money on the table. Most shared a feeling of contempt for negotiating.
Social Cost of negotiating for women?
An article in Harvard Business Review “Why Women Don’t Negotiate Their Job Offers” by Hannah Riley Bowles, highlighted research that showed that women are more reluctant than their male counterparts to negotiate salary offers. The research pointed to the “social cost” of negotiating (how women are sometimes treated negatively after the negotiation process) being greater for women than men. The article suggested that women are better at accurately reading their social environment and are in tune with the negative social cost they may face. This makes me wonder, what are women telling themselves prior to negotiating?
Are women better negotiators for others than they are for themselves?
The article discussed a phenomenon that I have personally witnessed. Women are much better negotiators for others than they are for themselves. Perfect example, most women have the propensity to become a mama bear when advocating for their children. I don’t believe women perceive the same social cost when they advocate for others, as they do, when it is for themselves. My opinion is that the internal talk track that is playing in our head when we negotiate for ourselves may sound something like this, “I am uncomfortable,” “I hate this part,” “What will they think of me?” “Will I appear selfish or too pushy?”
Can we change the internal talk track that may be hindering our negotiating skills?
Can we change the internal talk track that we play in our head prior to negotiating, so that we view the process in a more positive light? Since women are better at advocating for others, my suggestion is to change the talk track with that perspective in mind. Tell yourself that you are negotiating for the benefit of others, not just for yourself. For example, you may tell yourself that when you negotiate, in a mutually beneficial way for your company, you are setting an important precedent for your female peers. This may prevent you from allowing those self-defeating, nervous thoughts to affect your negotiating skills.
Emotional Intelligence Skills in the Negotiating Process:
How can we use Emotional Intelligence skills such as: assertiveness and empathy, with some gratitude to play to our advantage? Below were some of my recommendations that were specific to my friend’s situation. Keep in mind this was not an initial salary offer (that conversation would sound very different). Unfortunately, I believe she lost some leverage when she accepted the promotion without discussing the details first.
Suggestions for Starting the Conversation with Emotional Intelligence in mind:
*Start on a positive note: Thank the president and let him know that you appreciate the opportunity to take on more responsibility and have more visibility within the organization.
*Discuss the value that you are bringing in your new role. Focus on value and how the scope of your work has expanded.
*Transition: “As I have demonstrated the value that I am bringing in this new role, it’s time to revisit our initial discussion regarding the details of my promotion.”
*“I’ve done some research and the market is compensating $$$…” (you throw out the first number to anchor the conversation).
*“Here is what I am asking for…” (be specific). Look for reactions from the president when you articulate your list of wants.
Empathy and Interpersonal Skills:
*Pay attention to the body language and facial expressions. If needed, you can acknowledge, “You seem surprised by…,” or “I noticed that your facial expression changed, can you share with me what you are thinking?”
*Tell the president that you trust him and see him as an advocate. Ask, “How does what I have outlined, align with your recommendations for a salary that is commensurate with this type of promotion and responsibilities?
Link to original article: https://hbr.org/2014/06/why-women-dont-negotiate-their-job-offers