How to get over your fear of negotiating

All photos by Claire Lorenzo; see Facebook for complete album.

By Aditi Shrikant

Negotiating can mean many things in the professional setting. You can negotiate your salary, the price of a product you’ve created or your rate as a freelancer. Whatever it may be, it is important to know the worth of what you are negotiating, and then how to express it.

Over 120 women attended the first Ladies Get Paid town hall of the year, all about translating your worth into dollars and then defending it. The evening was divided into three parts: after a lightening round with the speakers, the room was then broken into smaller discussion groups with each of the speakers. The goal was to create a list of all the things they hate about negotiating, and the various ways to combat it. Then, everyone came back together to share what they learned.

Throughout the town hall meeting, the women on the panel told stories of how they negotiated the price of a product to investors, their admission into college and what it was like to be on the other side of the table during negotiations. No matter if they came from a non-profit or a large corporation, the a common theme among attendees was fear. Fear of sounding unaware of your field, fear of your perceived aggression being held against you and fear of being fired for standing up for you worth. 

There is nothing wrong with having fear, but it should never dictate your worth. Throughout the town hall meeting, attendees and panelists discussed how they have negotiated and what they wanted.

Our key takeaways:


Do not collapse self worth and net worth. 

Julia Rothman, illustrator & co-founder of Women Who Draw, shared how important it is to separate what you need to get paid and who you are as a person. It is important to educate yourself on what your worth in the market place is and how valuable you are to an employer.

 

Employers want to see you negotiate.

Negotiation consultant, Jamie Lee of She Negotiates, shared how employers often are encouraging of young women negotiating. She emphasized that being afraid is okay, but it shouldn’t keep you from vocalizing what you want. 

 

Set goals for yourself.

Vivian Giang, a freelance business journalist, shared how she sets goals for herself to ensure that costumers meet her rate. If it is a project she is not particularly passionate about, she said “they need to pay me a shit ton of money.” 

 

It is always easy to go down, but not up.

Jacquelyn De Jesu, founder of SHHHOWERCAP, invented a luxury shower cap that she priced at $43. While this may seem high, Jacquelyn wanted to emphasize that it is much harder to explain why you are suddenly going up on a price rather than going down. 

 

Be humble and have respect when negotiating.

Remember that the person you are negotiating with also has a budget. Be understanding of their situation and be understanding of yourself. Headhunter Hillary Black urged us to remember that our goal should be, "progress, not perfection".

 

You will not get fired for negotiating.

You may be laughed at argued with, but you will not be fired for asking for what you think you deserve. 

 

Negotiating is a process.

More often than not, your employer will not just give you the first thing you ask for, and that is okay. A healthy back and forth is part of negotiating and as Jordana Kier, co-founder of LOLA reminded us, "To gain something, both parties actually needs to give up something."


Aditi is a Brooklyn-based writer whose goals are to eliminate mansplainers along with the top sheet. As an editor at Mommy Nearest, she helps millennial moms navigate their newfound parenthood by directing them to the best kid-friendly parks, museums and, sometimes, happy hours. You can follow her on Twitter @Aditi_Shrikant or Instagram @ashrikant.