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SALARY negotiations for women: diffusing anxiety

Updated: Aug 22, 2023

Salary Negotiations for Women tend to be wrought with anxiety - how do you solve for it?


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Diffusing Anxiety Before Negotiations

Have you ever wondered why the idea of negotiating can make us feel anxious? One major reason is how we perceive negotiations - as a win-lose situation where we're battling it out, defending our interests. This perception triggers our limbic system, the part of our brain that's wired to respond to threats. You know, the freeze, flight, or fight response.


We know that anxiety is bad for performance. It negatively impacts our ability to take risks as well as our self-confidence. It's evident in the data - research on salary negotiations for women shows low numbers of women actually ask for a higher compensation package.


The good news is that we can actually trick our brain into realizing that negotiations aren't really a threat. How? In this blog post, we'll explore some easy and effective strategies to tame that negotiation anxiety and approach it with a whole lot more confidence.


Acknowledge that it's normal

Our brains have evolved over millions of years to protect us from dangers. So, when we perceive negotiations as threats, as is the case for most people, it is completely normal to experience a certain level of anxiety. We can approach it as an opportunity to experiment, taking note of what triggers our anxiety and exploring ways to manage it. For instance, we could consider waking up earlier on days leading up to the salary discussion or seeking support by discussing it with a friend.


Reframe anxiety as excitement

Cognitive reframing is a powerful technique that allows you to shift your perspective on anxiety. Instead of perceiving anxiety as a negative emotion, reframe it as excitement. Research suggests that this simple shift can enhance your performance and channel your energy in a positive direction. Check out the IG live from June 5th - for an expert discussion on reframing anxiety as excitement.


Use the power of preparation and practice

I fully acknowledge that when you're already feeling anxious, embracing the discomfort of practice is probably the last thing you want to do. However, let's reframe it together: by practicing now, we're actually paving the way for increased comfort and confidence in the future. There's no denying that the more prepared you are, the better you'll perform in the salary negotiation. So, let's push through the initial discomfort and invest in our preparation—it will pay off in the long run!


add allies to the negotiation field

When possible, establish an ally ship with peers and mentors who will advocate for you in advance. When you have more people in your corner, you will feel less intimidated when it comes to asserting your value. I refer to this as shadow negotiating. It's akin to creating a home field advantage, surrounding yourself with individuals who are familiar with your capabilities and all in agreement that you are deserving of that promotion or compensation adjustment.


understand Focusing illusion

In his book "Thinking, Fast and Slow," Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman discusses the concept of the focusing illusion. This cognitive bias causes us to magnify the importance of whatever we are currently thinking about, leading to us blowing it out of proportion.


For example, when preparing for a discussion with your manager, fixating on a specific concern, like how will this impact our relationship, can make it seem much more significant and anxiety-inducing than it actually is.


Next week, we will focus on all kinds of cognitive distortions, but for now, remember these words that Kahneman wisely suggests, "Nothing in life is as important as you think it is while you are thinking about it."


In summary, overcoming the fright, flight, or freeze response during negotiations boils down to tricking your limbic system into perceiving the situation as just another problem-solving conversation, rather than a battle or a threat. By reframing the negotiation in this way, we can shift our mindset and reduce the anxiety that often accompanies it. Key is to remind ourselves that negotiations are not inherently adversarial, but rather an opportunity to find mutually beneficial solutions.

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