full-time freelancer

Why women are afraid to ask for more at work and how to flip it around

Has there been a moment in your career when you had an opportunity to ask for more but you didn’t? Didn’t ask for a raise, priced your freelance hours at a modest rate, gave away free advice on something you earn your living from, or assumed that the your value to others is not worth much?

The author of “Women Don’t Ask”, Linda Babcock, breaks it down to numbers for us: when receiving an offer, 57% of men tried to negotiate higher. In the same situation, only 7% of women did the same. Only 7% of women believe they deserve a better offer, and I think it’s important to talk about that belief.


Great Expectations

Today it is no secret to anyone that as a society, we place a great demand on women. We expect women to be perfect at everything: running homes, raising children, and running a business. They have to multi-task, and they have a harder time being seen as flawed than men do.

The issue is complex; we can’t look at how women behave, without factoring in how they were treated historically. Thinking about your own position as an entrepreneur, coach or a professional. Today you have the power to influence your behavior around your worth and value regardless of how things were in the past for women.


Raising your value

Another great advocate of female leadership, Sheryl Sandberg, got to the point: “No one gets the promotion if they don’t think they deserve it.”

Believing you are worth more is an absolute must to stop underselling yourself and start asking for more. If you have a hard time recognizing your value, I have an exercise for you. Take some time and write down some examples of when you did something that was valuable to others. Focus on your professional life. Those can be times you’ve given great advice, made an introduction, made a colleague’s life easier by providing support, or helped someone to feel confident or recognize their talent. Don’t only look for instances related to your direct responsibilities or skills on your resume.  To sell your talents you must believe you have something of immense value to offer that others happily invest in. Think of the real value that you have to offer in the business world.

This exercise sends your mind a statement: I am outstanding at what I do, I am knowledgeable, I give value, and I have something of great value to offer and I receive value back. Your mind needs the reminder if you want to be able to ask for more.


The office is not a place to collect likes

In my practice as a therapist, I see many women, especially in HR positions or in leadership positions, who behave with male subordinates in a way that will make them liked. Once again, looking back at how society functioned, we can see the roots of our need to be liked. The same strategy does not apply in a modern workplace. Don’t try to make those who work for you, your friends, and don’t try to make them like you it is far more important than your colleagues respect you. You have friends outside of work; your colleagues don’t need to be your friends.

Focus on being respected. If your team respects you, they will do a lot more for you. If they like you and see you as their friend, they may feel they can take advantage of that by underperforming and under-delivering. They’ll know that as a friend, you may not feel comfortable reprimanding them or firing them.

I teach my clients all the time that they are not their body, their height, their weight, their shape, their size, or their past. I teach women that respect at work is much more important than being liked. Try it out for yourself; do the “times I delivered value” exercise to fit into your belief system that truth ‘you have something of immense value to offer and you deserve to be well paid for that’. Then, communicate that value through professional relationships. Don’t be afraid to ask for more, it does not mean you will lose favour or respect. You will gain respect and break the barrier that stopped you from demanding your worth and you will help other women follow your lead.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

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