Taking ChargeI just had a long conversation with Robin Tennant, who teaches negotiation skills to women. My question to her: What’s the biggest mistake women make in asking for more money?

Her response: Women give away their power before they even open their mouth.

How do we take back our power? I wondered. Here were her tips.

  1. Take credit for your ideas. You must toot your own horn, brag about your successes. Let the powers-that-be know precisely what your contribution was to a project or the team. “Men are taught to showboat. Women are taught to be submissive. We need to learn to say, ‘damn I’m good.’”
  2. Take responsibility for your mistakes. Your boss never wants to hear “yes…but” or any explanation. Instead, say ‘I made a mistake and I will fix it.” Robin tells me about a terrible mistake she once made, that lost business for the company, but she took responsibility, dealt with it professionally, and won her superiors’ respect. “It came a badge of honor by the way I handled it.”
  3. Be prepared. Bring a list—that you’ve worked on for a least 3 weeks to a month—of what you want and what you’re willing to give up. For example, Robin says, “I may not need my name on the stationary, but flexibility to go to my kids activities is really important.”
  4. Don’t look or act scared…even if you’re a quivering wreck. See yourself as an equal, adding value, deserving respect.
  5. Ask for what you want firmly, confidently, and allow for silence. Women often talk too much when they get nervous. Listen to what they say, even if its criticism, without interrupting or justifying your actions.

I liked her advice. Especially the part about taking credit for your successes and responsibility for your mistakes. What do you think?

If you want to get a hold of Robin: robintennant@mac.com