The gender gap in negotiating is well documented. When women don’t negotiate, they lose wages, raises, promotions, and more. The reasons are numerous, including a fear of socially difficult situations. Not negotiating can be part of the “tiara syndrome,” where women work like maniacs hoping that someone will notice and crown them with accolades.
What I see when women don’t negotiate is a missed opportunity. Not just for a promotion or raise or securing a new client. A chance to inspire. We can only inspire others when we take the risk to go beyond what we expect of ourselves and often what they expect of us. The chance of failure is what keeps our audience enthralled. They want to see the answer to a burning question: will she make it? Negotiating gives you a tool to ask for what you need, not simply wait for others to give it to you, and this is important not just for yourself but people who have a stake in your success.
Here’s what I see as the most inspiring gains when women (and men) negotiate:
1. Sharper competitive edge. Negotiators are competitors at heart, and a person’s skill at negotiating goes beyond nuts and bolts knowledge of the deal itself. If you’re reading this blog, you are most likely looking to hone that edge. A good example of this is the career of Michele Roberts, the first women negotiating on behalf of a professional athletes union. Backed up by an outstanding record as a litigator, she aligned her story and abilities with that of the men she represents.
2. Diversified skill set. The more successful you are in industries that involve high level negotiations, the fewer women you see (actually, the fewer people you see). Negotiation requires more than risk; it involves fearlessness. In a volatile era where businesses are rapidly changing and we all face the need to quickly adapt and acquire new skills, the ability to negotiate without sacrificing relationships will set you apart. It could be the difference in getting hired.
3. Greater community. A great way for women to become comfortable with negotiating is by framing your ask around the benefit of others. Research shows that women exceed men in negotiating on behalf of others. Harnessing your heart and mental savvy makes for the best ask no matter what your gender is, and the result is a benefit for you and those who benefit from you taking the risk to negotiate. Recognize that what you do as a negotiator causes a ripple effect in the lives of others.
Game Changer Takeaways for Inspirational Women
The willingness to dig down deep within ourselves to meet a giant challenge—to “lean in,” as Sheryl Sandberg has coined it— is the essence of inspiration. Women have been less likely than men to accept a role in negotiations, and this is a chance for these women to make a big difference by speaking out. Don’t wait for others to speak up for you. Claim a place at the negotiating table and be willing to fail. This is a skill that is more necessary than ever in a fast-pace, globalizing business landscape where work requirements change on a dime. By carrying around the expectation of negotiations, you will begin to see more opportunities for practice to stand up for yourself in work and for yourself. Take the risk to negotiate and inspire others.
The Molly Fletcher Company inspires leaders, teams and organizations to kick-start growth. A keynote speaker and author, Molly draws on her decades of experiences working as a sports agent. Her company’s Game Changer Negotiation Training workshops teach businesspeople the framework for successful negotiating, so that you can close more deals while building stronger relationships. Sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter and subscribe to the Game Changers with Molly Fletcher podcast on iTunes.