Earlier this week, I had the delightful privilege of leading Negotiation Prowess workshop for women grad students at Columbia University.

It was fun, and I dare say a success!

The individual questions from attendees were specific and challenging, and I’ve been mulling on them ever since.

Which made me see that there were two key recurring themes. Allow me to explain…

1. Should you negotiate for the sake of negotiating?

No and yes.

Let’s start with no. Don’t negotiate for the sake of negotiating. Don’t negotiate because I told you to. Don’t negotiate because your friends or parents tell you to.

Which might sound bonkers to you, especially if you’ve heard me talk or have been reading this newsletter where I stress how YOU SHOULD ASK FOR MORE.

What I mean is, don’t negotiate out of social pressure for something you don’t really believe in. You’ll be the best negotiator there ever was, if you do it for something YOU really believe in, from a place of genuine conviction and heart.

Remember negotiation is an expression of your ownership over your career and life. YOU are in the driver’s seat. YOU make the calls. So the choice is yours.


Here’s the thing. It’s scary to negotiate. It’s tempting to give into our fears and insecurities and to NOT negotiate. I’ve been there. I’ve left money on the table before. I’ve accepted offers that weren’t the best deal for me, because I was afraid to negotiate and risk rejection.

And what I’ve learned over the years is:

1) Everyday we are ALL already negotiating, engaging in many conversations to reach agreement.
2) The more you consciously negotiate, the better you become and the more confident you become.

So yes, in a sense, I think it’s beneficial to negotiate for the sake, or for the practice of negotiating. Ask for a discount at your local coffee shop. Ask for an upgrade when you travel. Ask a friend to help you with a project. Ask mentors and contacts to meet with you for a coffee chat. These asks are all ripe opportunities for you to flex your asking muscles.

2. Be aggressive within reason

Maybe after sitting through one of my workshops, you felt a bit OVERWHELMED with all the information, all the possible negotiables, all the different factors to consider, and all the different strategies you can employ.

And we’ve hardly scratched the surface!

So when you need to actually negotiate in real life, what should you do?

The specific advice I want to share with you is that you should try your best to be aggressive within reason, given your situation.

To find out what’s REASONABLE requires legwork. I’m talking about the 80% of negotiation success: preparation and research.

You’re already very proficient in the art of Internet research, so I want to challenge you to learn by talking to the folks who’ve been in your shoes before. The people who have worked in your specific industry, your dream job.

Ladies, don’t forget the men! More often than not, their definition of REASONABLE exceeds women’s, especially in terms of money and resources. Talk to them, find out what they think is reasonable, and challenge your own sense of what’s reasonable.

Then be aggressive in your goal setting and anchoring.

Ask. Believe. Receive.