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Think You Can't Negotiate Your Salary? Uncover This Underlying Fear for Women in Negotiation

And Five distinctive traits of women who successfully negotiate


My client Edith, a strong negotiator is adept at navigating high-stakes boardroom dialogues, and can lock horns with the sharpest of executives and secure maximum value for her company. Now, imagine this very person grappling with self-doubt, simply because they're negotiating for themselves.


Woman climbing a jagged mountain
Photo by Brooke Anderson, Unsplash

This is an observation I’ve made time and again: immensely talented high-achievers who have gone head-to-head with executives at large Fortune 500 companies, and secured the best for their organizations, sometimes falter when the negotiation is about their personal worth or benefits. Why this discrepancy? Why do these seasoned negotiators, especially high-achieving women, momentarily forget their prowess when it's their turn to shine?


The root of this problem lies in our very human fear of non-conformity. Cast your mind back to ancient civilizations when survival depended on unity and adherence to tribe norms. To dissent or stand apart often meant vulnerability to external threats. This deep-seated drive to 'fit in' still lingers in modern society. We fear judgment and rejection, which can sometimes overshadow our achievements and capabilities. This is particularly pronounced among women. High achieving women might often “slow their roll” in negotiations, concerned about coming off as too "greedy" or "needy."


Interestingly, research has shown that when women negotiate on behalf of others, they often outperform even their male counterparts in securing value. Their tenacity, passion, and commitment shine through. Drawing from this, I'd argue that if women approached self-negotiation the way they do for others, especially those they care about deeply, the results could be groundbreaking.


This brings us to a powerful reframe: Negotiate for yourself as you would for the person you love most in the world. It’s a simple but profound way to reframe the negotiation process.


Working with clients who are high-achievers, I’ve uncovered five distinctive traits of women who successfully negotiate-


Negotiating As if For their Most Loved One

The most successful women in negotiation don't just bring facts and figures to the table. They negotiate with the same passion and fervor as if they were advocating for their most cherished ones. This emotional investment is their secret weapon, lending authenticity and determination to their claims.


Confidence Over Conformity

While the societal urge to conform is strong, these women recognize that true value isn't in blending in, but in standing out. They believe in their worth and aren't afraid to voice it, even if it swims against the current.


Respect Over Likeability

Everyone wants to be liked, but in the corporate world and when negotiations are underway, successful women prioritize respect. They recognize that while being liked is pleasant, being respected is empowering and crucial in extracting value.


Clarity of Purpose

A clear understanding of what they want is fundamental. They approach negotiations with well-defined objectives, ensuring that they're not sidetracked or undervalued. This clarity often translates into conviction, making their arguments more compelling.


Mapping the Path

Successful negotiations aren't purely about the end goal. They're a journey, and these women chart out intentional roadmaps for success. This includes understanding the other party's motivations, establishing common ground, and creating strategies for potential obstacles. Interestingly, they apply this same principle to their career growth and success.


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In wrapping up, given the stereotypes and biases women often face, it's empowering to see these successful women embrace these traits and pave the way for equitable, confident negotiations.


Negotiation, at its core, is an affirmation of value. And as women (and indeed everyone) rise in their careers and aspirations, it's important to remember that the value we bring to the table is not just about what we can secure for others but also what we rightfully deserve for ourselves.


Here's to more empowered negotiations and recognizing the unparalleled worth each one of us brings to the table.


If you want to get the toolbox to successful negotiations, download this audio training (it's free!).

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