How to Ask for What You’re Worth in 2022
rē•define your earnings to match your sense of self-worth.
You’ve heard it said before: “Ask for what you’re worth.” For the benefit of yourself and your communities, it’s important to rē•frame the myth that what you earn dictates your actual value. This only perpetuates the belief that your self-worth as a person is somehow synonymous with your current market rate. In truth, what you charge for your services might not be tied up in your sense of self-worth at all. In fact, acts of charity are often indications of honoring yourself and the other. But the important part for the every day, particularly in this work-forward culture, is that you are not settling for less than you deserve. This inevitably creates a dynamic that harms your sense of self-worth.
Once you disentangle yourself from the common feeling that your earnings somehow define your worth, and anchor yourself into your sense of inherent sanctity that is yours simply by virtue of existing, you can step into the practice of empowered negotiation. The start of a new year can be a purposeful time to recalibrate confidence, bring intention to negotiation, and set out to ask for what you deserve — and, yes, we’re talking about salaries.
You might wonder why a discussion about fiscal earnings is taking place on a wellness site. The fact is that knowing and cultivating your self-worth is a deeper endeavor that is rooted firmly in the personal journey. But a healthy sense of self-worth might still translate into asking for a bigger piece of the (gluten-free) pie. We live in a culture that makes what we do a big part of our lives — and if you love what you do, this is a good thing. The gist of the matter is that by connecting to your inner value, you can rē•frame your role in the workforce in a way that asserts your connection to your authenticity.
What Is the “Worth Barrier”?
Confusing “current market rate” with “worth” is unfortunately quite common in our capitalist world, and it actually makes it harder to bridge the gap between honoring yourself and your work ethic. “What you earn has nothing to do with your worth as a person; it’s just the current market rate for your skills. Conflating our income or net worth makes it harder to talk about these things,” Ashley Feinstein Gerstley, money expert and founder of The Fiscal Femme, tells rē•spin.
But by separating these two notions, you can get an accurate assessment of what your income should be. “Do research, plain and simple, into what your skills are worth for your market and where you live,” recommends Melody Wilding, LMSW. She explains that concrete numbers can help combat negative self-talk. However, the process doesn’t rely on the black-and-white. “If your role isn’t typical and you’re having trouble finding relevant data, take time to reflect on your accomplishments. How did you save the company time, or bring on new clients? It’s possible to quantify value beyond salary.” As you can see, there are many layers to the notion of worth — even monetarily.
The Gender Divide
“For women especially, what I see getting in the way of asking for what we’re worth is fear,” Wilding says. “And fear stems from feeling like if we ask for more, we’re going to be seen as too conceited. And so, too often, we downplay our worth.” Wilding describes a double-bind for women that plays into the fear of asking for more. For one, women are expected to be leaders yet also team players. They are also told to pursue goals while expected to be considerate of others. Finally, the fear of being disliked comes up when they negotiate or speak up. Feinstein Gerstley continues, “It’s important to acknowledge that women are told to negotiate, but when we do, there are negative long-term career implications.”
Feinstein Gerstley also points out that the relationship with money is a lifelong practice. It is a positive step that women are negotiating as much as men, something that is confirmed by research. However, going into negotiations with adequate preparation will help to make things easier.
rē•spin Negotiations with Focus and Intention
Convention teaches that salary negotiations take place during hiring and annual reviews. But it’s time to open your minds. “Think of negotiating like a year-round conversation,” Feinstein Gerstley says. “It doesn’t have to be about how much you earn every time, but it can be a great opportunity to share successes you had, where you want to be in your career, and explore what opportunities are available.” Wilding adds that “It’s important to start planting seeds by communicating what you’re working toward before making a real ask.” Plus, she points out that if you only bring up a raise at your year-end review, it might take your boss by surprise.
So what happens if your negotiations don’t work out the way you hoped? Both experts agree that “no” is never the end of the conversation. Wilding concludes, “It’s easy to take ‘no’ as personal discouragement or believe that it means something about us. But in reality, there are circumstances beyond our control.” Instead, she advises that you begin to think of hearing ‘no’ as an opportunity to gather information. Research what you can do to get a ‘yes,’ and begin planning your next move.
Getting What You’re Worth
The point is that developing a healthier relationship with money is important; what we do professionally takes up so many hours of the day, that finding ways to align our careers with our true selves is important. And while the above process speaks to getting your current market value, tapping into your inherent self-worth is its own job — the rewards of which are priceless. Knowing your true value empowers you to seek opportunities that align with you authentically. It’s one of the first steps to making your career more meaningful and purposeful.
Worth can also mean different things to different people, and that’s ok. Perhaps to you, it means being valued, appreciated, and seen. Maybe it means doing what you love, even if your earnings are lower than what you once envisioned. At the end of the day, money is just one of many needs. By over-emphasizing it, you run the risk of missing out on those forms of fulfillment that cannot easily be quantified. Anchoring in the deep awareness that your worth isn’t monetary can help you rē•assess your balance between your work and your passions. Who knows? You may even find ways to merge the two worlds.