Eliminate doubt by understanding self worth before negotiating


What happens when a negotiation becomes empowering instead of nerve wracking? According to a new Equal Pay Day study released by Credit Karma, 31% of women say they still don’t feel comfortable asking their employer for a raise. Negotiating is often viewed strictly through the lens of salary, but many fail to approach it as a means to steer greater professional and even personal success. 

That’s why in part two of this negotiating series, MBAchic is revisiting some of the takeaways from our conversation with Alex Carter, a Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Mediation Clinic at Columbia Law School. 

Watch Negotiations and asking for more here.

Carter has spent the last eleven years helping thousands of people negotiate better, build relationships and reach goals. Read more about her and her transformative take on negotiating in part one of this series, here. 

More than Money

As Carter points out in her book Ask For More, focusing solely on finance means leaving a lot of untapped opportunities on the table, like access to important meetings, training to advance a skill set, greater work-life balance, even support from key players to enhance the value of a given role. Successful negotiators ask for the types of work they want, for mentorship, or even invitations to powerful social networking circles. 

“Asking for more is way more than just money. It’s sometimes just knowing what somebody has the power to do for you, and then boldly asking them to do in that moment,” says Carter.  

Talk less, and embrace the power of a pause. 

The concept less is more has never held more weight than the tension hanging in the air during a negotiation. Too much talking can quickly lead down a dangerous path to self-sabotage. 

“A lot of high value negotiation moves come after three and a half seconds of silence,” says Carter.

Practice it. Feels like an eternity, right? Sit in the silence. It allows the person on the receiving end of a proposal to consider individual value. Strength grows in silence, so get comfortable there.

Introverts and extroverts alike can learn a lot from embracing a powerful pause. Often, those who leave room for more reflection and less explaining end up doing better at the table. 

“A lot of it is about listening. Not just with your ears but your eyes,” says Carter.

Her suggestion? Ask questions and stay flexible. Maybe the salary is not negotiable but there is an opportunity for a signing bonus. 

“When you are negotiating with a company, you’re teaching them what kind of negotiator you are going to be for the company,” says Carter. 

Eliminate doubt by understanding self worth before negotiating. Practice makes perfect. 

Practicing negotiating terms out loud with confidence and command before a high stakes conversation is both important and impactful. Nervous energy tends to involuntarily lead to upswings in voice inflection. When this happens, a negotiator’s ask tends to feel more tentative than self assured, so experts suggest a downward tone is key.  

“Repetition is hugely helpful. Ultimately negotiation is about knowledge, when you have a very clear sense of where you want to be, what you need, even what you’re feeling, writing down all of those feelings and seeing them on the page releases some of the power they have over you. If you write down how you achieved something you’re proud of, it’s data because it tells you who you are when you are operating at your highest level,” says Carter. 

Whatever attributes make an individual their highest, most confident self – those are the traits to lean into during negotiation talks. Bringing this mindset to the table will automatically generate more calm energy and confidence in the face of uncertainty. 

“When as women we don’t get a certain number of opportunities, we look inward. I reject the notion that women can be too confident,” says Carter. “If you are shining too bright a light in a room and they don’t want you for that room, thank goodness. You are being redirected to a place that will be able to handle your bright light.”


Photo from Eddy Lackmann

About the author

Author profile

Torri is a mom, creative writer, communications specialist, and professional journalist. She has nearly a decade of experience working in print and TV newsrooms as an on-air reporter and anchor independently researching, writing, interviewing, filming, and editing her own content. Whether she is interviewing the Speaker of the House about hot button issues, or a small student group about a local grassroots campaign, her commitment and focus remain the same: to bring the story she is telling to life. As an amateur watercolorist, she is passionate about the arts, promoting women's empowerment through writing, and investing time in her family.

She lives outside of Manhattan with her husband, baby boy, and rescue dog, Jax.

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