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Business Insight: Women, negotiate like you mean it

Published March 27, 2013 10:45 am

Don't underprice or undervalue yourself, author advises.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Vickie Milazzo, author of "Wicked Success Is Inside Every Woman," says many women aren't comfortable dealing with negotiations, even when it's something they really want and deserve.

How can women get comfortable in asking for better pay or a promotion?

It can help to change your perspective and think about it in a new way. For example, women can and do negotiate all the time outside the workplace — with spouses, with kids, with teachers, with friends. Approaching the way you negotiate at work in the same manner as you might a discussion with your husband over where to take this year's family vacation may help women to feel more comfortable with the task at hand, and more confident in their strategy. And consider that settling for less than you're worth is always a big mistake. When I'm hiring, I actually weed out candidates who underprice themselves because I assume they won't perform at the level I expect. In my eyes and in the eyes of many other CEOs, job candidates actually lose credibility when they underprice themselves.

What's the first step in successful negotiations?

The first step should happen long before the actual negotiation ever takes places. From Day One, do everything you can to ensure that you aren't seen as interchangeable or dispensable. Never let anyone see you as a commodity. Do what you need to do to stand out. Get in the middle of everything and bring new ideas to the table. Build relationships throughout the company. If you're able to make yourself invaluable and leverage the things that make you unique, you'll also make yourself impossible to replace. And when that happens, you'll be in control of your own price.

Why is it important to ask for more than you can get?

It's part of being a strong negotiator. You have to be your own advocate. Don't jump too fast to say yes to the first offer, even if you think it's fair. It's always smart to assess the situation, the person making the offer, and how far you might be able to go before signing your name on the dotted line. Chances are, if your request for more is denied, you'll still be left with the initial offer.

Other tips?

I always recommend that you never talk off the record. When you're negotiating for something you want, make sure you go public only with information you're comfortable with the other party knowing. You may think a comment you make to a colleague is confidential, but anything you say outside of negotiations has the potential to get back to the top. Also, I want women to make sure that they never allow themselves to be bullied. People, particularly women, who aren't used to negotiating are especially susceptible to being intimidated by a show of force — but even veteran businesswomen can be taken aback by unexpected aggression or resistance. If you find yourself in this situation, be mindful that you are dealing with another human being and that you have something valuable to offer. Don't be afraid to demand respect. And if you consistently don't get it, well, it might be time to rethink whether you want to work with that party in the first place. Vickie Milazzo, author






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