Improving your earning power—increasing the size of your paycheck—involves fine-tuning skills that have less to do with math (or money) and more to do with negotiating (for money). If you're like many women, one of the things you "hate" most about money is asking for it. That has to change.

You probably have little difficulty negotiating for things other than money. Your teenager wants a later curfew? Your babysitter wants to borrow the car? You want your town to institute a system of policing the parks at night? You have absolutely no difficulty in presenting a coherent argument, in making your case, in being sure that you are heard, and in laying down the law.

But when the subject is money and the beneficiary is you, somehow it all falls apart. There are four emotionally charged reasons that this happens:

  • You don't believe you deserve it.
  • You don't believe other people think you deserve it.
  • You know you deserve more, but not how much more.
  • You know precisely how much more you deserve, but you don't know how to get it.
You need to stand up for yourself—and your money. This is a crucial skill to add to your workplace toolbox. When you start out receiving a smaller-than-necessary raise, whatever subsequent raises you get build on that smaller base. That means you end up more behind down the road. Add in the fact that women's raises—because women take breaks from the workforce to care for kids or for elderly parents—tend to be sporadic, and that when women reenter the workforce, they do so for less money, and well, you get the picture.

You need to acknowledge that negotiating does not mean being pushy. Getting what you're worth, as long as you have the conversation appropriately, is the polite thing to do. Harboring resentment because you're not being paid what you're worth is far more dangerous. It's then that the whistle on your teakettle is going to blow.

Negotiating is also not personal. What do you think the person across the table is thinking as you throw numbers back and forth? Do you think he or she is sizing you up, thinking: "Hmmmm, Suzie or Charlotte or Lily or Gail, she isn't really worth another $175 a week. I don't like the outfit she's wearing today. Besides, she can't even roast a decent chicken. She can't do the crossword puzzle in ink." Not even close. That person is thinking about himself or herself. His needs. Her budget. What will make his or her life easier? And how can that be accomplished for as little money as possible so that there will be enough in the till to give a raise to the next person who asks? It's not about being your friend. It's about getting the job done. If you keep that in mind throughout the process, you'll have an easier time getting through it. And remember: Negotiating is productive.

If you do not negotiate—if you do not ask—the answer will always be no.

How to Negotiate for More Money continues...
Reprinted from Make Money, Not Excuses by Jean Chatzky with permission from Crown Business, a division of Random House, Inc. Copyright © 2006 by Jean Chatzky.
Please note: This is general information and is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult with your own financial advisor before making any major financial decisions, including investments or changes to your portfolio, and a qualified legal professional before executing any legal documents or taking any legal action. Harpo Productions, Inc., OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Discovery Communications LLC and their affiliated companies and entities are not responsible for any losses, damages or claims that may result from your financial or legal decisions.


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