Friday, October 10, 2014

Woman UP! - Recommended Reading for Microsoft's Female Employees

Timing is everything. Yesterday Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recommended that women in tech let Karma be responsible for their raises. Of course Karma is dealing with him today.

In the meantime, I got some great seasonal advice from career guru Aimee Cohen, author of the new book, Woman UP! Overcome the 7 Deadly Sins that Sabotage Your Success. So I thought I'd pass along the following Tips to Transform Your Negotiating Skills article.

These tips are written from Aimee's experience as a successful career coach and shared in her book. This is recommended reading for my female friends at Microsoft (and the entire industry, unfortunately). Available at Amazon here:

Thanks to Aimee for permission to print this article:

Woman UP! Overcome the 7 Deadly Sins that Sabotage Your Success

Instead of a Trick, Treat Yourself to a Powerful Negotiation

By Aimee Cohen
Halloween is a holiday that prides itself on promoting a battle between trick or treat; good or evil. People either gravitate towards the darker side of haunted houses and vampire costumes, or the lighter side of pumpkin patch parties and dressing up as angels and fairy princesses.

Even the idea of parading around a neighborhood as a zombie or a doctor ringing multiple doorbells is filled with mystery and uncertainty. Will you get a "trick-or-treat"? And the rules are such that you're not allowed to ask for what you want. You either get a mega-Twix bar, a bag of peanuts, or some new number-two pencils, and then the swapping and negotiating begins once you get home and evaluate your loot.

The same is true when women try to negotiate for a raise or promotion. They never know if they're going to get a "trick-or-a-treat", and they don't feel empowered or prepared enough to ask for exactly what they want or what they rightfully deserve. It's often not until they get home (or back to their desk), and they've had a chance to evaluate their "loot", that they realize they've received a "trick-not-a-treat".

The other challenge women face is that they walk into the negotiation as one extreme or the other. They show up with either the vampire or fairy princess costume and attitude, and struggle to live up to that "too nice or too mean" persona if it's not authentic.

Part of the problem is that women are never taught how to effectively negotiate, and don't do it very often. They fear walking into a negotiation and assertively standing their ground, because they don't want to be perceived as the "B-word". Women are also notorious for committing the "Disastrous Triple-D" where they routinely, and often subconsciously, downplay, dismiss, and diminish their accomplishments. It's very difficult to negotiate for more money if you describe what you've done as "no big deal", or "anyone could have done that".

The following "12 Tips to Transform Your Negotiating Skills" will take the mystery out of negotiating and will keep the "trick-or-treating" to Halloween. These tips are written from my experience as a successful career coach and shared in my book, Woman UP! Overcome the 7 Deadly Sins that Sabotage Your Success:

1. Be Yourself - don't be an angel in the office, and then all of the sudden show up as a devil in the negotiating room. Nothing is more off-putting or confusing to a boss or hiring manager than having your alter-ego do the negotiating for you.

2. Get a Goal - know what you're trying to achieve before the negotiation even begins.

3. Know Your Bottom Line - figure out ahead of time how low you'll go and when you'll walk away from that new job or opportunity.

4. Be Realistic - do your homework and set realistic expectations. If you know the position only pays $100K, then asking for $250K is probably not going to happen.

5. Script It Out - everyone gets flustered and nervous in stressful situations, so scripting out what you want to say beforehand, and practicing saying those words can mean the difference between a trick or a treat.

6. Anticipate Objections - proactively think about any and all reasons why the other person would say "no", and plan out your responses accordingly.

7. Bring Alternatives - come prepared with your first choice, your ideal outcome, but also bring alternatives to keep the conversation going until you reach a successful compromise.

8. Avoid Emotion - Tom Hanks said, "There's no crying baseball", and there is also no crying in negotiations. Keep your emotions in check and save the tears or squeals of joy for the bathroom afterwards. This is when you need a poker face.

9. Practice Makes Perfect - don't expect to be a negotiating guru if you only do it once every few years. It takes practice. Go to a garage sale and practice negotiating for junk before you try to negotiate for something more meaningful.

10. Seek Support - it takes a village to raise a child, and it can also take a village of support and encouragement to raise an assertive woman. Rallying support of your efforts is an effective way to create accountability. There's no backing out and no retreat.

11. Think of a Third Person - women can find negotiating for themselves painful and difficult, but thinking of who else would benefit from a successful outcome is often the motivation they need to get the job done.

12. Celebrate Success - instead of thinking of negotiating as an all or nothing proposition, find a way to celebrate what you did gain.

The reality is that women don't like to ask, and would rather have root canal surgery without anesthesia than negotiate a higher starting salary, a bigger raise, or a more advanced promotion.  Not negotiating is not an option, and it will ultimately end up killing their careers. It's time to pull on those "big-girl panties" and learn how to negotiate with power and confidence.  Woman UP! and find a way to get that "treat" and not a "trick" when it comes to negotiating.

About the Author

Aimee Cohen is a career expert, veteran speaker, and author of Woman UP! Overcome the 7 Deadly Sins that Sabotage Your Success.  She is owner of Cohen Career Consulting where, for more than 20 years, she has a nearly 100% success rate empowering women to achieve career success.  Aimee provides strategic step-by-step action plans to clients during personalized one-on-one consultations.  She leads outplacement transition seminars for Fortune 500 companies and is a contributing writer for the Denver Business Journal. She facilitates the LINK to Leadership program for The Leadership Investment, has appeared as a career expert on television and radio shows, and in print media such as Glamour magazine, the Denver Post, and Denver Woman magazine, and she was a past nominee for Outstanding Women in Business Award from the Denver Business Journal.
Aimee lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband of 22 years. She has two teenage children. Her son is a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and her daughter is in high school.

Woman UP! is available at as well as other online booksellers.  

To learn more visit her on: 
Twitter: @WomanUpPower

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