“If you don’t ask, you don’t get” was my grandfather’s favorite saying. (Warning: my PC-free opinion is coming up next.) One of the reasons why women in particular don’t get the higher salaries, board positions, contracts, bonuses or job opportunities is because we don’t ask for them.
I don’t subscribe to the blanket notion men are conspiring to keep us out of the game. I don’t believe in the glass ceiling – not anymore.
Women have proven, over and over again, we are quite capable of doing the job, flying the jets, landing the planes and leading the teams, etc.
But there are a few things that may be holding us back. Here’s how to get what we deserve (these tips are not just for women, by the way):
1. Figure out what you want. It’s tempting when you’re tired, stressed or distracted to let life and work just happen – to float along accepting what comes your way. Is that good enough? If so, then by all means, continue to float. But if you want more, spend time giving it thought. Then map out a plan to get where you want to go, including anticipated obstacles, nay-sayers to avoid and encouragers to seek out.
2. Learn to ask for what you want. If we wait around for someone to notice our good work, open doors for us or assign the right mentor, we could be waiting a very long time. Provide proof you have what it takes to excel. Have you learned how to document and quantify accomplishments yet? It’s a crucial skill to prove competency.
3. Focus. Yup, I know we’re already multi-tasking our little hearts out and may not have the bandwidth to invest 10,000 hours to become a master at anything. Read this article to learn why that “rule” is wrong. Avoid trying to be all things to all people. Be picky. And read one of my all-time favorite books, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.
4. Banish the victim mindset. What is the job worth and what choices are you willing to make? Don’t fall for the one-size-fits-all gender equity pay movement advocating for more government regulation. It sounds like a worthy goal, right? But U.S. law already requires equal pay for equal work, regardless of sex, ethnicity or nationality. Also, choices in occupation, time worked, education, flexibility, tenure and merit (performance on the job), tax codes and employee benefits programs all have an impact on compensation. Read more about the backstory on this topic.
5. Ask better questions. Here are three great questions you can ask to improve critical thinking and debate skills, courtesy of the great Thomas Sowell:
- As compared to what?
- At what cost?
- What hard evidence do you have?
People who ask good questions get better information, which leads to better decisions. In today’s world especially, we can’t take everything we read or hear as gospel truth. So get to the bottom of issues if you want to join the ranks of thought leaders who will have a positive impact on the world.
6. Expect tradeoffs. Again quoting from Thomas Sowell, “There are no perfect solutions – only tradeoffs when negotiating any position.” Ask yourself, what am I willing to compromise on? Will the higher salary, two-hour commute, stressful work environment, publicity, paperwork, etc. be worth it? Figure out in advance what you’re willing to give up, in order to get most of what you want.
My grandfather was a pretty smart guy. He also liked to say, “No work, no eats!” My grandmother, however, was equally as wise. She would say, “Lips that touch liquor touch other lips quicker!” But that’s a topic for a whole different kind of article!