What if you could make $20,000 in less than five minutes? When it’s time to negotiate your salary, you can actually *do* that—and Ladies Get Paid founder Claire Wasserman has the 411 on earning what you’re worth. Here, the Well+Good Council member shares her best advice on avoiding the all-too-common anxiety around compensation. Keep her words in mind the next time you’re talking salary, and you might just walk away with more than what you’d hoped for…and exactly what you deserve.
I could teach you how to negotiate for your salary, but no number of talking points will help you if you don’t know how to calm your nerves. For many women, the mere thought of a salary negotiation makes them feel sick to their stomach, and they’ll do anything to avoid it. But if you can summon your inner strength during negotiations, you might be able to bump your salary up by thousands of dollars in just a few minutes. So yes, it’s worth it.
Here’s my advice on staying calm and confident throughout the negotiating process.
Acknowledge your fears
1. Say it out loud. Ignoring your feelings is like pushing a bouncy ball into a pool. No matter how many times you try, it’s bound to pop up. The best remedy is to acknowledge your fears by saying them out loud or writing them down. By doing that, you’re getting out of your head and into an objective place.
2. Don’t apologize. The fear of negotiating can stem from the concern that you might not be liked by the person you’re negotiating with. But remember, there’s nothing wrong with asking for what you want! So there’s no reason to say you’re sorry.
Question your assumptions
Our anxieties tend to stem from assumptions we make about ourselves and the situation at hand.
1. Ask yourself why. It is fear of losing the opportunity? Feelings of unworthiness?
2. Figure out what actions you can take. For example, if you’re afraid of losing the opportunity, maybe you should start looking elsewhere.
Face it, you’re too close to yourself. The best way to view yourself objectively is to get a little distance.
1. View your life like a movie. You’re the protagonist and we’re rooting for you! Usually things turn out all right for the main character. When they encounter obstacles, we know that it’s just part of the larger movie.
2. Everything is a learning experience. If you view things as a pass/fail test, you are putting waaaaay too much pressure on yourself to perform. Instead, go into things with the goal of learning about yourself. That means accepting you may mess up—you probably will at some point—and that next time, you’ll do a bit better.
3. Ask yourself: What’s the worst that can happen? This isn’t brain surgery. You’ll be fine.
You are the most important person in your life, so it is absolutely crucial that you take care of yourself. Mindfulness is best as a daily practice, but in times of stress, it is a must. It starts with breathing.
1. Pay attention. It’s crazy how something that happens naturally can sometimes feel unnatural. Unless I’m paying attention to it, I’ve noticed that most of the day I breathe shallowly. I also suck in my stomach, which stifles my breathing even more. Whether it’s that we’ve been socialized to appear smaller or that we carry around anxiety, too many of us can forget to breathe deeply and fully.
2. Identify where your breath is coming from. If you’re alive, you’re obviously breathing. However, are you breathing correctly? To ensure you’re taking in the max amount of oxygen, place your hand on your chest and on your belly. Is your stomach expanding as much as it can?
3. Count while you breathe. The New York Times has some great tips on how to do deep, controlled breathing that is proven to reduce stress.
Protect your energy
As women, we’re socialized to be people pleasers and put others before ourselves. Unsurprisingly, that can lead to burnout and resentment. As a daily practice—or, at the very, least in times of stress—it’s important to take steps to protect your energy.
1. Visualize. This is going to sound a bit woo-woo, but it’s a game changer, I promise. Imagine gold molten lava being poured over your head and dripping down your whole body. For the places of your body that it misses, take your hands and paint it on so that it covers every nook and cranny. There is no part untouched by it. What this does is create a shield around you; however, it’s not a shield of Teflon. It’s malleable so that you can deeply connect with others, feeling their energy while preserving yourself. (Feeling ambitious? Try painting the inside of your body.) Do this before any nerve-wracking experience or at the beginning of the day. Listening to Solange helps.
2. Wash your hands. After a stressful experience—especially one that requires you to “perform”—escape to the bathroom and wash your hands. Take your time, let the water run over you, and really feel it. By washing your hands deliberately, you’re symbolically releasing energy, whether it’s your own pent-up nerves or the other person’s.
3. Practice self-care. You’re a reader of Well+Good, so you already know how important self-care is. Whatever you do to make yourself feel good, take your time. Relish in it and let yourself be proud that you’re prioritizing your well-being.
I know all of this is easier said than done. Even though I teach this for a living, it never ceases to amaze me how I still get nervous every time I negotiate. My personal struggle is the fear of losing an opportunity. However, each time I almost acquiesce too soon, I ask myself: Will I regret not speaking up? Will I regret not asking for more? So no matter how shaky my voice is or how many times I rewrite an email, I do it anyway. I hope you will, too.
The founder of Ladies Get Paid, Claire Wasserman is an educator, coach, and podcaster who helps women navigate their professional options to find fulfilling career paths.
Make 2018 your healthiest, happiest, and richest yet—with a little help from Well+Good’s (Re)New Year program!