Women at Work: 7 Ways to Negotiate

A Q&A with Mika Brzezinski, co-host of "Morning Joe" and author of "Knowing Your Value: Women, Money and Getting What You’re Worth"

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Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg has ignited a discussion about whether women are bad at negotiating for better assignments, raises and promotions in the workplace. TIME spoke with Mika Brzezinski, co-host of Morning Joe and author of Knowing Your Value: Women, Money and Getting What You’re Worth, who offers seven fail-safe tips for women to take into their next career negotiation:

Don’t act like a man. “When Morning Joe first started, I noticed that Joe [Scarborough] and our boss, Phil Griffin, would have these huge arguments. They would yell and scream at each other and wave their arms and spit. Almost every time, Joe would get what he wanted, and Phil would get something out of it too, and then they both would sit back and say, ‘So, are you going to game tonight?’ Women could never survive if they tried to do that. I actually went into a meeting with Phil and did it myself. I was ‘pulling a Joe.’ It was just awkward. I walked out of that office without a raise — a raise that I deserved. I think Phil thought I was a little crazy, and I wouldn’t blame him for it. You have to find your own voice.”

(MORE: TIME’s Cover Story, “Confidence Woman”)

Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC's "Morning Joe"

William B. Plowman / NBC NewsWire / Getty Images

Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”

Be authentic. “If you go into a negotiation communicating effectively and elegantly, but also with your own sense of self, chances are, you’ll get what you want. Obviously, you have to back up your request with data, information and a clear articulation of your value. When you’re able to do that, trust me, your voice will follow. You don’t need to act.”

Don’t play the victim. “Women are the worst with this. In my opinion, they think their boss should worry that they’re paying for their mom’s retirement home or they have three kids or whatever. You know what? That’s not your boss’s problem. You’re not supposed to go into [negotiations] loaded with guilt. You’re supposed to go in there saying, This is what I do for you, this is what I can do for you, this is why you should pay me more. For some reason, we think we’re connecting with people when we make them feel sorry for us. That is so lame.”

(MORE: Sandberg Exclusive Excerpt: ‘Why I Want Women to Lean In’)

Don’t apologize. “We tend to back into conversations, thinking we’re making people feel comfortable. When we walk into a negotiation saying, ‘I’m sorry, I know this is a bad time for the company,’ we’re not sorry, and it has nothing to do with what we’re talking about. We’re basically saying, ‘Don’t give me what I want.’ Men don’t do this at all. It’s a sign of weakness. We shouldn’t apologize for being strong and effective.”

Lose the drama. “Knowing your value also means knowing when your stock is low. You have to go into [negotiations] at a high-value moment in your career. Don’t play the drama card unless you’re ready to follow the next tip.”

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Be ready to walk. “I think it was Suze Orman who said in my book that women should save up for eight months before they think about leaving a job. Be ready to walk in some way, shape or form. If you’re not, it’s just drama, and nobody’s going to buy it.”

Friendships are fleeting. Shoot for respect first, friendship later. “This is something Sheryl Sandberg talks about in her book, and I made it a fundamental part of mine. Women are so worried about making friends. Stop it. Work is a professional place. Over time, some friendships will develop, but those will be with the people who you command respect from first. If you don’t get the respect from the people you work with, they will never be your friend.”

MORE: TIME’s Complete Coverage on Sheryl Sandberg