341 – December 7
“If you don’t concentrate on counting the money, people soon realize that money is not the focus of your consciousness, so they give you everything other than money: kudos, acclaim, praise, etc., etc. And sooner or later you’ll be in trouble.”—Stuart Wilde
What are you working for, in lieu of the money? Perhaps you really need acknowledgment, so you take a job that pays less than you desire because the boss is friendly, compliments you, and makes lavish promises of future rewards. Perhaps you like to feel needed, so you give away your expertise for free to everyone who calls on the phone with a question, instead of inviting them to make an appointment for a paid consultation. Or maybe you keep working with that difficult client because you want to be a nice person, so you’re afraid to confront him with the fact that he complains too much, demands too much, and doesn’t pay enough for your time.
That was my problem with George. He had been a friend of mine for several years, when he started up a business with several partners. He called me immediately, effusive in his praise, wanting to hire my other bookkeeping service. But there was a hitch. They were a start-up company and didn’t have a lot of money. Could I please, please give him rock-bottom rates, and they’d pay me handsomely later when they became successful. I was flattered. I was wanted. I said, “Sure!”
What followed was about seven months of excruciating financial and emotional disaster. The reports we gave him were never exactly what he wanted, he always needed additional work done—for no additional charge, of course—and he called every month to complain that our bills were too high. Every month he got more and more demanding. Compliments disappeared. But that was his fatal mistake. Had he kept on giving me wonderful praise, I probably would have done his bookkeeping forever, regardless of the fact I was losing money on the deal.
One afternoon, he was in my office complaining about something and shook his finger in my face. That did it. Something in me snapped and I said, “Just a minute! You’re talking to me like I have to work for you—and I don’t. I have clients for two reasons: Number one: I make a lot of money; and Number two: I have a lot of fun. Now, I’m not making any money on you and you are not being fun. Something is going to have to change or we’re not working together any more!”
I have never seen a more surprised expression on someone’s face as I saw on George’s that day. He had the grace to laugh, and he recovered his sense of fun. But he had not totally understood my declaration of my boundaries. Two days later, he called to complain about my latest bill.
“That does it!” I declared into the phone. “Either get a check into my office for the full amount of the bill or come pick up your stuff!” I slammed the phone down, huffed and puffed and paced and vented with my office manager.
A check arrived a few hours later. I raised his rates the next month and he paid promptly without complaint. And he called regularly just to compliment us on the great job we were doing!
Do you want compliments or money? They are not mutually exclusive. Why not set it up so you get both?
“I am extravagantly praised and paid for everything I do!”
The problems mentioned in the first paragraph of this page of “The Wealthy Spirit” are all too familiar to me – both personally and professionally. I read a great book called “Women Don’t Ask” by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever that explained a lot.
Society has differing “gender norms” for men and for women, and if you act outside them, it could cost you. And it’s been costing women plenty for most of history. Men are expected to be powerful, success-oriented, and in control. Women are expected to be nice, helpful, and relationship-oriented.
I understand it – I think it’s partly biological – a woman needs to be able to put others first in order to raise children. Women are extremely adept at negotiating in one particular arena – they are great at asking on behalf of others. This giving quality makes us great care-givers, nurturers, teachers, and workers in the helping professions, and especially non-profits. We’d work for free if we didn’t have any bills to pay. We naturally think of others and the stress they might have in paying us. So we make allowances, reduce our rate, and even give it away for free. We wait for people to call us because we don’t want to “bother” them. Even when they ask us to call them!
A lot of this is cultural – they way we were brought up to be “good girls”. How can we re-train ourselves to ask for what we deserve in a cheerful, feminine, yet strong manner? How can we avoid being seen as “grasping” or “demanding” or “salesy” or “bitchy”—not just by others, but by ourselves?
So is there a way that we can we take back control of our negotiations, ask for what we want and get it, without being pushy, aggressive and offending people?
Yes. It’s been proven that when women were taught self-management principles, learned to anticipate obstacles that might cause stress and anxiety, made plans to overcome them, set goals for themselves, practiced with a partner to build self-confidence, and rewarded themselves by celebrating the goals they achieved, the gender gap in results was completely eliminated!
I’ve been doing this kind of training with women and men successfully for more than 20 years. I actually sometimes wondered to myself why it worked so well. People had amazing results – some of them even doubled their incomes in the 8-week class. I didn’t really understand it – until I read the research I’m going to tell you about today. It’s mind-blowing.
In teaching my Financial Stress Reduction Workshops, I’ve seen women—and men, too—struggle with pricing. If you don’t price your products and services correctly, you won’t ever make the money you want – and deserve – to make. Everyone had anxiety about asking for money – from negotiating a starting salary to pricing their products and services if they were in business for themselves.
But men were willing to tolerate their anxiety and ask for the money anyway, where women seemed to have much more difficulty with it.
Why are women willing to go broke rather than ask for more money?
Here are some of the responses I’ve heard myself as I work with women to improve their financial condition by asking for more money:
“My clients can’t afford more money.”
“Other people are charging less so I have to charge less in order to be competitive.”
“I’m afraid if I ask for more, I won’t get the job (or my clients will leave and I’ll have nothing).”
“I’m afraid if I ask for more, they won’t like me.”
“I don’t want to be greedy.”
And the clincher: “I love my work – it’s not about the money.”