A Financial Expert Reveals Why You Should Think of Negotiations as Collaborations—Not Conflict

Photo: Getty Images/ kate_sept2004
On a recent episode of NerdWallet's Smart Money Podcast, personal financel expert Tori Dunlap, founder of Her First 100K, dropped this little nugget: "We're told, especially as women, that you shouldn't want money or that wanting money is greedy or bad. The truth is, I want the options and the choices that money can buy me, and I think it's so amazing that I've been able to see that change in my own life of becoming financially independent to the point where I can live how I want." Yes, please. She went on to say that one important way she’s made this happen is by negotiating every job she's ever held. During the episode, she offers her tips on how to negotiate your salary—and one of the biggest takeaways is to change your mindset and think of negotiations as collaborations, not conflicts.

Experts In This Article
  • Tori Dunlap, personal finance educator and founder of Her First $100k, a company dedicated to helping women bridge the wealth gap.

"We go into negotiations thinking we are going to have to fight to the death and unsheathe our sword and battle it out, and it makes us very negotiation afraid, right? It makes us very fearful of that," Dunlap says. "At the end of the day, you are just having a conversation. You and this other person are on the same team trying to solve the problem of you not being compensated fairly...And so, all you're doing is working with your boss or your potential boss to find a solution to the problem of you not being compensated well." She adds that you are on the same team, you're not trying to fight. "It's a collaboration, it's a back and forth. It is not a conflict," she says.

The other thing that Dunlap wants you to keep in mind in a negotiation is to demonstrate your data and your value. She recommends Glassdoor and Payscale as starting points to see what other people make in similar roles. However, she recommends that you take it further—have convos with colleagues, previous bosses, people you know in the same industry.

Talking about money, in any sense, can feel scary at first, especially so for those in marginalized groups when negotiating compensation. Patriarchal narratives like "investing is just for men" and "you will be rich if you work hard" are oppressive and silencing, and that system profits off of us being silent, Dunlap says. "In a society or a system that oppresses you and does not want you to have money and does not want you to have choice and wants to actively control you, the easiest way to do that is to tell you that talking about money is taboo." All the more reason to shed light on the issue by talking about money more openly.

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