The majority of women don’t ask for a salary raise. I was no exception. I was never comfortable talking about money, let alone asking for money! Over the last decade, however, I’ve learned from my mistakes. I’ve learned how to use my emotions to help me get what I want.
Succeeding in my failure
The first time I negotiated my salary I was 21 years old. I was living in India with my then-boyfriend now-husband. I was desperate for a job and for a working visa that would allow me to stay in the country.
At the end of an interview with a French event management company, they asked me how much I expected to be paid. I muttered: “I want a monthly salary of Rs 15,000.” They said yes.
I was proud. I had asked for my first salary.
To put things into perspective, Rs 15,000 was about USD 300 at the time. I knew it wasn’t much but I was starting off and I was so desperate to get a working visa that I didn’t want to ask for more money.
As I walked out, I saw another French girl who also interviewed for the company. We had chatted in the waiting room. She asked me:
“Did you get the job?
“Yes,” I answered.
“How much money did you ask for?”
“I asked for Rs 15,000” I answered, feeling embarrassed by the money talk.
“Are you mad? Rs 15,000?” She repeated, clearly in shock.
“Err, yes.” I answered, immediately thinking I had been too greedy.
“That’s ridiculous. I asked for Rs 25,000. That’s like a minimum. You should go back inside and say you’ve made a mistake and want Rs 25,000.”
I rushed back inside. The man and his assistant were still there. I mumbled something about having made a mistake and that I wanted Rs 25,000. He said that was fine.
I walked out again, high fived my friend and felt on top of the world.
Two days later we found out that the guys who were doing the same job as us were paid double. By then, however, we’d signed the contracts and neither of us had the courage to speak up. We both needed the job.
Negotiating a salary with my parents
Less than a year later I was negotiating a salary with my parents. My dad has suggested I join his business. I had been warned I would not be treated differently from other job applicants and was expected to negotiate my terms.
This time, I was better prepared. I calculated what I needed to live relatively comfortably, had an arm long list of justifications and asked for USD 1,200. They said yes even before I could go through my list. Soon after, my mother (and CFO of the company) increased my salary without even asking. It turned out that it was much too low.
Going for the big bucks
Fast forward a few years later, I no longer worked for my parents.
I got a promotion at the company I was working for. When I saw the salary they offered I felt disappointed. I asked other people in the same industry what they were earning - it was much more. I realised I should really be asking for a six-figure annual salary. It was a big deal. It felt terrifying.
I thought about it a lot. I delayed negotiating, wondering whether it was the right thing to ask for more.
Was I good enough to ask for that amount of money?
Did I really need that much money?
I was invaded by thoughts of feeling like an imposter, thoughts that only evil women chased money, thoughts that I was unworthy and greedy. I almost convinced myself that I didn’t need it, that I didn’t deserve it. That way, I didn’t have to go through the negotiation and difficult conversations. But deep inside, I was full of resentment.
Saved from self-sabotage by my best friend
I had begrudgingly drafted the acceptance email. I asked my best friend to check it before I sent it. She said it reeked of resentment and frustration.
She suggested that I list down my qualities and what I brought to my work. She asked me to list down why I was the right person for that promotion.
As I wrote down these words, I felt my mindset shift. I realised that my fears were stopping me from asking for what I believed was right. I deleted the old email and sent a new one with the two lists.
A few months and some negotiation later, I was sitting at my desk in my new position with the salary I believed I deserved (and never thought I would have ever got.)
Thoughts create emotions that dictate your behaviour
Our emotions are a reflection of what we believe. For years, I didn’t ask for more money because I didn’t believe I deserved it. These thoughts triggered emotions that made me too scared to ask. By transforming my thought patterns and believing in my worth, I called upon a different set of emotions that helped me build the courage to ask.
The more aware you are of your emotions, the easier it becomes to identify problematic beliefs. By transforming limiting beliefs (I don’t deserve it) into helpful ones (I am worthy), you will also transform the type of emotions that get triggered.
Are your emotions getting in the way of what you deserve? Are your emotions slowing your career growth?
I can help.
In my 6-month one-on-one coaching program, I help ambitious women like you to use their emotions so they can show up as their best self and feel great about themselves. I work with career driven women to give them the tools they need to be able to stay on top of their emotions - including the ones triggered by imposter syndrome. The idea is that you become your own ally, instead of an enemy.
Check out my program to see if it’s something that can help you advance your career and build the life you want to build.
You can book a discovery session (free) to see whether the program is the right fit for you.*
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