I’m often asked for advice by friends and peers on the art of negotiation. Over my many years of hiring experience, I’ve become a skilled advocate for the businesses that I’m hiring for, and have been able to hire tonnes of legitimately awesome humans to help towards their mission.
There’s an art to successful negotiation from the business side of the fence, a flow you need to create throughout the recruitment process that means that by the time you are ready to offer someone a job, you know what their motivations are and what matters most to them, as well as what matters most to the business you are representing. From that place of understanding you can safely lead process to a positive outcome for all, whether or not the person ultimately joins the business.
I’ve been great at helping others from the other side also, supporting others in getting clear around what matters most to them, when to show their hand and when not to, and frankly having the bravery to say no when they need to say no – letting them know that there is almost always at least some wriggle room.
Where I was less successful however, was when it came to advocating for myself.
At the time I didn’t really clock how strange it was for a person who understands the detailed inner workings of the offer process, to be such a novice when it came to negotiating their own situation.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Now I can see very tangibly the reason behind the disconnect. Because, whilst I’m a seasoned recruiter, I’m also a seasoned female, with all of the wonderful self deprecating characteristics that are commonly found within that group.
You know the sticky stuff a lot of us wade through; the imposter syndrome, the low self esteem, the desire to feel ridiculously qualified for the role you are applying for, the ‘work really hard and wait for people to notice how good you are’ school of thought.
We have had a lot to contend with as women in the working world over the years, and it’s a delight to see the number of positive initiatives out there to support our development and progression in modern times. None mores so than when it comes to balancing the gender pay gap.
We need that continued support from businesses and other humans, gender immaterial, to get us there.
Sadly I am afraid that stuff alone won’t suffice on this one. We will never really progress past this point until we change the negative conversations that we are having with ourselves. On repeat.
We are responsible for our life experiences and are fully capable of creating a better deal for ourselves in the here and now; in the way we coach ourselves (and one another) to break through and ask for what we are worth.
There is no quick fix here. The only way to start to realise your actual value in the working world, is to realise the real value within yourself. That’s right my friends, personal perception is everything. You won’t be able to effectively ask for more, until you truly believe you are worth it.
The shift here can be a painful one as it comes from deep within, and change of this magnitude takes time and a lot of investment. My lead time for my shift was over a number of years and, whilst that is something that I continue to work on today, I am happy to say I do so from a place of now feeling brave enough to ask for what I perceive to be my true value.
At a recent #YouEqualTech meetup in London, we were reminded by Susie Ashfield that bravery always has to come before confidence. We have to say yes and be prepared to figure some stuff out along the way.
I’ve got a lot better at saying yes to the things that scare me, but some of other the things that have been most supportive to me have been:
- Surrounding myself with a growing group of super women (and men), who champion, inspire and support.
- Learning to connect with myself fully, through working on my stillness and my ability to just be, via daily meditation but also healing and coaching work with Sara Williams and Zofia Sharman.
- Getting better at celebrating my successes first hand by becoming proud of my day to day achievements.
- Developing a humble respect for my natural inclinations and talents. I recommend a simple Strengths Finder exercise to help you realise that so many of the things you currently take for granted are actually your super powers.
- Learning how to take a compliment with a simple thank you.
- Paying it forward and supporting other women in their development. The growth and learning you experience by championing one another is huge.
Never underestimate the power of the people you surround yourself with. They can make you or break you. Have you ever experienced a time when you feel like a friend is actively trying to dissuade you from doing something like negotiating?
Sadly this is something that is extremely common – even I have been that person in the past. It’s simply down to the relationship that person is having with themselves, it isn’t about you. They can’t support you putting yourself out there, because they can’t fathom doing it for themselves. You don’t need to go as far as ‘breaking up’ with those people, but do clock those who champion and those who dampen in your friendship groups, and choose the right audience for the right conversation.
I’d love to hear more from those of you who are working on improving the conversation you have with yourselves. Let’s join forces and co-champion one another.