Until I became a widow and the sole breadwinner, I didn’t realise how negotiable I was. How negotiable are you?
Funny how it takes a crisis to wake you up to who you are and the value you bring; to stop you from being apologetic for what you charge for your services; to stop you offering discounts before they are asked for; to stop you from devaluing yourself to get the job.
Women fall into this trap more easily than men. In fact, women are known to be stronger negotiators than men, except when it comes to their own issues – particularly concerning money.
A tip from Anel Bosman, Head of Corporate and Investment Banking at Nedbank, is to negotiate for yourself as if you were negotiating on behalf of someone else. It’s a way to hack your own default setting.
I learnt how to stand my ground and fight for money during the wrapping up of my husband’s estate from 2018 – 2019. These were emotionally tough times but, like a mother lioness, I had to provide for my family and pay the bills. I had to fight to be seen by the system and taken seriously. Women are pretty invisible in the claiming process and often treated as stupid or brushed-off. There was many a time I wished that I was a man or had a man’s voice, to be honest.
When there is a second salary in the wings, no matter how much or little it is, we can be lulled into an artificial comfort zone that can sabotage how we see our own value. Women who have built businesses beyond being solopreneurs, with staff salaries to pay, are far less likely to fall into this trap.
A case in point was when I was sitting in a boardroom of one of the top companies in the financial services industry in 2019. They had heard me speak at an event and wanted to use my skills and experience. We talked through their needs and my offering. They asked me to get back to them on what I would charge. I said that there was no need; it was an easy calculation. On presentation of my fees, without taking a breath, the CEO of the division asked me what discount I could offer them.
It was one of those moments when I had such clarity, realising that they couldn’t get what I was offering from anyone else, and I was worth it. I also remembered that men are far less likely to be asked for a discount or to even entertain one if requested. I stood unapologetically firm, and told him that I was sure they wouldn’t entertain discounting my policy premiums if I asked for one. I secured the business.
If you want to be an independent, financially-fierce female, it starts with seeing yourself differently, being your own best cheerleader and advocating for yourself. It’s also about having a realistic financial plan that you are working to.
Amazingly, if you actively work the plan, things fall into place. The business develops, promotions arrive, investments grow and you are able to build a sustainable life. It starts with a decision, requires a plan, and takes conscious action to work the plan. Even baby steps in the right direction will do. Don’t wait until a crisis hits to wake up. You need to start future-proofing yourself today.
TAKEAWAYS FOR WINNING AT WORK
- Do you know what you are worth?
- What sets you apart from others who do something similar to you?
- What can you do to differentiate yourself?
- Add more value to your offer before you think about discounting it
- Negotiability isn’t just about money, it can be about boundaries, hours, rent and many other things too
- A case in point: friends who rented homes instead of owning them, would tell the landlord what they wanted to do to the property to improve it when negotiating the rent at the start. They offered to pay for the upgrades (small improvements, nothing major) and then they deducted it off their rental. The landlord had a better place to rent out next time and the tenants got the home they wanted.
TAKEAWAYS FOR WINNING AT HOME AND LIFE
- Do you have pink jobs and blue jobs in your home – chores for girls and chores for boys? Some families do. This is not cast in stone and can always be negotiated.
- If your children want to challenge the status quo, or have some challenges that need solving, teach them to come to the table with suggestions and solutions instead of only presenting you with the problem.
- Encourage your children to take up debating at school – it’s a great way to learn verbal sword-fighting skills that will be useful in negotiations later on in their lives. Even just a year of debating will do them good.
- If you want to improve your confidence in speaking with authority, join a local Toastmaster’s chapter to hone your skills
If you think about it, almost every interaction we have is some form of negotiation, trade or give-and-take.