7 Salary Negotiation Tips for Women - How to Get Ahead Without Negative Feedback

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: January 18, 2012

Women are far less likely than men to negotiate at work, which typically costs women more than half a million dollars in earnings over the course of their respective careers, according to Linda Babcock and Sara Lashever, authors of the book Women Don’t Ask.

The authors conducted multiple studies that found women miss out by failing to negotiate salary, promotions and other advancement opportunities that men commonly and aggressively pursue. The reluctance of female employees to advocate for themselves is often the difference between climbing the career ladder at a healthy pace and not climbing it at all.

Babcock and Lashever said it’s not about women being substandard negotiators, but rather they fail to negotiate at all. In a recent Newsweek interview, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg shares an interesting theory: women don’t negotiate for themselves because others react badly to it. Sandberg says data shows when men negotiate for themselves they are more liked and respected. But when women negotiate for themselves, the behavior is not similarly rewarded. Instead, both men and women want to work with them less often.

In today’s world, the ability to successfully negotiate is a necessity. While it’s difficult to change societal outlooks and reactions, women can learn to negotiate in ways that have a more positive impact on the relationships and people around them. This article explores seven tips for helping women get the salaries they deserve, without alienation or negative feedback.

Tip #1: Heighten your Expectations

You have the skill set, knowledge, and experience for the job. So don’t be “grateful” for any salary offered. Assume that your salary is negotiable, and that you don’t have to accept the first offer you receive.

The first step toward successfully negotiating is making the decision to negotiate in the first place

Tip #2: Know What You Are Worth

Enter into salary negotiations well prepared by knowing what you are worth.

Find similar companies geographically close to where you’re interviewing and research those salaries. According to statistics in Women Don’t Ask, women report salary expectations between 3 and 32 percent lower than those of men for the same jobs

Tip #3: Be Positive, Not Pessimistic

If you go into salary negotiations with anxiety or apprehension, or feel pessimistic about the outcome, you’ll most likely ask for - and get - less than you deserve.

This is understandable behavior, as most of us want to “win” our negotiations and may feel we’ll have more success if we lower the bar. If you’ve done your homework and know what you’re worth, you should be able to enter into negotiations with the confidence and optimism that will help you negotiate with success.

Tip #4: Take a Collaborative Approach

Society has trained women to better listen to the needs and concerns of others. We do this with our friends, with family members, and at work.

Women can use a cooperative approach during negotiations to show how what is being asked for will benefit all parties. Framing negotiations as a win-win situation, instead of approaching negotiations in a competitive manner, often results in more acceptance among co-workers and peers.

Tip #5: Negotiate Like a Woman, Not Like a Man

It’s unfortunate that women can’t aggressively ask for what they want and deserve without being perceived as a shrew or she-devil. Maybe someday. Until then, it’s better to work around the double standard.

Women can be just as tough as men when it comes to sticking firm on their negotiations. But women who demand what they want in gentler, more social and friendlier manners have a better chance of being listened to and getting what they want than those who adopt an in-your-face, no-nonsense approach.

Tip #6: Role Play Before You Ask

When it comes to negotiating, one of the many things that creates anxiety and prevents women from negotiating in the first place is not knowing how the conversation is going to unfold. There are many different directions in which a negotiation can go. Take a moment to think about these various directions, and develop responses to each potential scenario.

This will make you feel more prepared for the conversation, which will make you feel more confident and comfortable.

Tip #7: Set Higher Goals

Don’t settle for “good enough.” We all know there’s a direct relationship between goals and end result. The higher your goals are, the better the outcome. Ask for more and you’ll get more. It’s that simple.

The first step to becoming an excellent negotiator is deciding to negotiate in the first place. When you take the steps to negotiate in way that makes you confident and the others around you comfortable, you increase your chances of success.

Recommended Reading

Women Don't Ask: Why women are afraid to ask for what they deserve

Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers

How to Say It for Women: Communicating with Confidence and Power Using the Language of Success

Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman: What Men Know About Success That Women Have to Learn

Hardball for Women: Conduct your business like you play sports and remember that winning is all that matters

Secrets of Six-Figure Women: Surprising Strategies to Up Your Earnings and Change Your Life

The Go-Getter Girl's Guide: Get What You Want in Work and Life (and Look Great While You're At It)