On the eve of my book being released, what a thrill it's been to collaborate on a survey with LinkedIn covering one of my favorite topics “negotiating!" Surveying 2,000 plus global professionals for the study, LinkedIn's results ”just out today” yielded some compelling outcomes. Chief among them, a full 35 percent of people report feeling anxious or frightened about negotiating. What may look like simple distaste for negotiating on the part of professionals is made worse by a shaky job market that leaves us even more reticent to ask for what we want.
The study also shows a gap between men and women, a reality that I often point to in my book and training work. Of course, men and women don't have to negotiate with the same exact frequency or style, but make no mistake: our differences in negotiating do create a disparity in our pay and promotion prospects. When we as women negotiate less often, we exclude ourselves from candidacy for the top job or the maximum pay we're seeking. Highlighting a key reason for this trend, the study found that men feel more confident about negotiating than women, with 37 percent of men saying they feel confident compared to only 26 percent of women.
What's behind this difference? I'd argue that as women, we often approach negotiating believing that relationships should trump whatever our agenda or cause is. Surely, we think, whatever we need to lobby for is not worth the potential damage it may cause to the relationship. Yet the way that we perceive negotiation may also make the difference. The survey showed that while men are more likely to see negotiation as being similar to a "poker match", women are more likely to see it as a "dance." When you consider these analogies for a moment, you'll note that poker is a strategic, win-lose pursuit, where bluffing and covert one-upmanship are employed by the best players. A dance on the other hand, implies a level of cooperation, coordination and most of all, partnership. We can take this analogy even further and consider that a dance often has a leader/follower dynamic, where one party is more passive than the other.
While these statistics may not encourage us, there are two untapped strategies in the survey that can give us hope. For one, the survey showed that among those who negotiated salary and benefits, only 44% used a third party source (like PayScale.com or GetRaised.com). Given that these tools are practically free and offer grounded, impartial data, we could be stalling out our negotiations because we don't know our true worth! Visiting these sites equips you with the data you need to make a good argument and with PayScale's newest application, the PayScale Instant Salary Report, you can get immediate salary figures drawn right from your LinkedIn profile quite easily.
Another bit of hope lies in a nuanced survey finding. LinkedIn showed that there's a direct correlation between being a more frequent user of LinkedIn and being more comfortable with negotiating. In fact, forty-eight percent of professionals who visit LinkedIn on a daily basis report feeling confident about negotiating, while only one third of professionals (who visit LinkedIn fewer than five times per month) have the same feeling of confidence. What we can learn from this is that our network is a rich source of insight and help. Our connections (and even our 2nd and 3rd-degree connections) can offer many kinds of help, from giving insight into our counterpart's motivations and style to acting as sounding boards.
Check out the Media Coverage from the survey. I am thrilled to be included!
LinkedIn Blog: http://blog.linkedin.com/2012/04/03/negotiating-tips/
MORE magazine: http://www.more.com/linked-in-negotiating
Media Jobs Daily: http://www.mediabistro.com/mediajobsdaily/tag/selena-rezvani
IT Business Edge: http://www.itbusinessedge.com/slideshows/show.aspx?c=95352
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