We negotiate for our children all the time. We want them to have the best teacher. We work with their coaches to make sure they get some game time. We have their best interests at heart.

We negotiate with our family about how and where to spend the holidays. We state our opinion and sometimes end up compromising, but there is usually some negotiation before plans are finalized.

So we CAN negotiate! We have the skills to negotiate and work out compromises for the people in our life that we care about. Why do we think that we can’t negotiate well for ourselves?

When it comes to negotiating a starting salary, why don’t we negotiate for the best compensation and benefits that are important for our health, well-being and life-style?

When it comes to asking for a raise or a promotion? Why are we so timid asking for what we know we deserve?

The issue is NOT that we don’t have the skills to negotiate, it’s that we don’t utilize these skills for ourselves. It’s easier for most of us to advocate for others rather than for ourselves.

We know that men find it easier to ask for what they want and need, and the fact is that men outpace women in the workplace in terms of both compensation and promotions. It seems  likely, therefore, to assume that men are better negotiating. However, it is probably more accurate to say that it’s not that they are better at negotiating, they are better at negotiating for themselves.

Think about this: what if the only thing holding you back from getting and a raise or promotion was that you didn’t ask?

And what if the reason you don’t ask is because you don’t feel you know how to do this well and you’re afraid you’ll be shot down?  Think about how well you negotiate for others in your life. You can do this!

You will never know if you don’t ask but that being said, prepare yourself before the ask.

  1. Do your homework. Always keep track of all your accomplishments during the year and make sure that you can articulate how these accomplishments have benefited the company. Be as specific as you can in terms of business outcomes.
  2. Tailor your message. Understand what is important to your boss and position your accomplishments in a way that demonstrates how you have helped him/her and your department reach their goals.
  3. Make sure you set up a specific meeting at an appropriate time so that you are not rushed or doing this on the fly. This should not be a casual discussion.
  4. Don’t get emotional. Don’t ask for a raise because a colleague got a raise or promotion and you feel slighted. Ask because you know you deserve it. Clearly state your accomplishments with business outcomes and your reasons for the request and stand in your own power.
  5. Practice with a friend or colleague until you are comfortable with asking and stating your accomplishments.

If you want to learn some specific skills on how to improve your negotiation, tune in to GPS Your Career: A Woman’s Guide to Success this Wednesday at 12 noon EDT, when I talk about how women can improve their negotiation skills with my guest, Victoria Pynchon.