According to the World Economic Forum, US women won’t gain equality with men for another 200 years. There are many factors behind this wage disparity including discrimination, motherhood penalty, stereotyping, and implicit bias, etc. While most of these factors are systemic and need a much bigger reform, research shows that women physicians do not negotiate at all or do not negotiate effectively, adding more to the insult. We cannot wait for another 200 years and to negotiate effectively is one of the steps we need to take ASAP.
Here are five Power tips to empower you with better negotiation skills.
1. Go with the data.
Simply put, do your homework. Gather salary and other compensation data from reliable sources. Knowing the salary and other compensation data will help you prepare what you want and what the acceptable alternatives are. Now, think of your specific skills and abilities and why you can offer more than an average Joe with similar qualifications. Take time to acknowledge your worth in dollars to yourself. Believe in yourself first and others will follow.
2. Prepare your mindset.
“I don’t want to negotiate as I don’t want to sound greedy. They have treated me well and I feel guilty asking for more. I don’t want to strain my relationship over this” These are pretty common monologues. If you find yourself using these, consider asking – Is it my excuse to avoid discomfort? Am I afraid of failure?
It is ok to be afraid, go ahead, and negotiate anyway.This negotiation will help you take a step to advocate for the most important asset, YOU
Prime yourself with positive emotions. Do a pep talk in front of a mirror, listen to uplifting music, or engage in an activity that gives you joy. Positive thinking can enhance creativity and open-mindedness, which will eventually help you to perform more effectively in the negotiation.
3. Prepare for the actual conversation.
Practice the actual conversation. Think of all the possible scenarios from the best possible option to the worst. Now, write how you would respond in each scenario. Consider a “role-play” with your coach or a trusted friend. Role-play will help you with developing specific strategies for being persuasive. Consider Videotaping the whole thing, it will allow you to see yourself in action, your strengths and weaknesses, tell-tell signs of amygdala hijack, and help you create strategies to remain confident and calm.
4. Talk about the bigger picture.
If you are still uncomfortable talking about yourself, or afraid that you will come off as too aggressive; consider reframing your conversation to include others. You can say how the other party or whole team would also benefit from the deal to make it a win-win. Research shows that women negotiate better as “mama bear” for others and you can include your team’s commitment when you ask for increased resources.
Alternatively, you can reframe to include how the organization would benefit from your commitment or by your specific ask. For instance, you may talk about how the organization would benefit by paying for your professional learning, for you to be able to use those skills for strategic and higher-level tasks.
5. See what else is on the table
Instead of thinking of negotiation as a Win or lose scenario, put on your problem-solving hat and take the holistic approach. It does not have to be the salary; compensation is the whole package. Be open to discuss all possible options like additional non clinical or research time, administrative and clerical support, additional time off, autonomy over the schedule, annual bonus, professional title, loan repayment, monetary and non-monetary support for professional development, and so on.
Finally, my friends, irrespective of the result of this one conversation if you negotiate, you already win! Either way, you would advocate for yourselves and do your part towards the collective goal of gender parity. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.