Courageously forthright action does not undermine a woman’s femininity. It does, however, reveal a woman’s willingness to showcase her talents. Jill demonstrated her talents and caught the attention of a city manager. When he phoned Jill to discuss an administrative position, she knew that negotiating the salary would be difficult. “He saw me as someone who could assist him with furthering the organization’s vision. Initially, his offers were below my requirements, but I kept asking for more money. He knew I was ready and willing to walk out the door. So he finally caved in.”
An important step toward professional and financial success is learning to negotiate. Communicating face-to-face or via telephone can prove effective in helping to overcome invisibility and move into a better venue for maximizing your exposure. Likewise, try to avoid email correspondence, which greatly increases the chances for misunderstanding.
Jill shared that the city manager who hired her turned out to be the best boss she ever had because “He admired me, respected me and believed in me. He gave me room to display my talents and branch out beyond my job description. We are friends to this day.”
Be alert if you work for people who penalize you as a courageous woman; in other words, they discourage you from being all you can be by labeling you as “bitchy” or “pushy” because you promote your own interests.
From Harvard Business Review “Nice Girls Don’t Ask” the authors write, “As a result, women in business often watch their male colleagues pull ahead, receive better assignments, get promoted more quickly and earn more money.
Observing these inequities, women become disenchanted with their employers. When a better offer comes along, rather than using that offer as a negotiating tool, women take it and quit.”
Everyday courage initiates decisive action and accepts nothing less. Jill did not back down. She made the essential connection between displaying her talents and learning a new behavior—asserting her worth to advance her career. Perhaps this process gave her fresh courage to face other obstacles.
Do your talents energize others? How often do you stand alone? Are you comfortable in this potential awkwardness?
[i] Babcock, Linda, Sara Laschever, Michele Gelfand, and Deborah Small, “Nice Girls Don’t Ask,” Harvard Business Review, October 2003, 15.
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