I have always thought I was a fairly confident, self assured and strong woman. Someone who knows herself and understands her strengths and challenges. I have 12 years of amazing work history, where I have worked hard to grow and develop my craft along the way.
A few years ago, I decided to make a change in my life and move across continents to the USA. It was an exciting time and I was ready for anything. I found a job that I loved and everything was great. Until, I learned of the fact that in the USA it is considered normal and appropriate to negotiate salary. Being in the field I was in, and coming from a different country, this was a complete foreign concept to me, and a daunting one! Even more so, since I learned of this a year after I had already accepted my new job. The thought of asking for a raise now was completely giving me high blood pressure. Asking for more money, even though I felt completely justified, was a horrifying thought and not a comfortable topic of conversation for me at all. I spent many evenings after work practicing the speech I was intending to give to my boss. Once I finally thought I had it memorized, I asked for a meeting. Let’s just say it was the most awkward meeting I have had! I walked out of there feeling like a failure. There were points I had masterfully memorized that completely went out my head and to be honest, I was not prepared for my boss to say ‘no’ or to even question my request, as in my head a raise was fair and truly justified. Most of all, I was annoyed at myself for feeling I had not successfully defended my worth.
It took a while to get over those negative feelings, but I am not one to give up easily. I realized that I could not take it personality, as I did not want it to affect my relationship with my boss. I waited a year, took on more responsibility and this time structured my approach differently from last time. I still practiced my points, but this time brought in a notebook with some pre-written prompts for myself, I came in with an open mind and knowing what my backup plan would be if I got the dreaded answer of ‘the company is just not in a position to right now’, or even worse, a simple ‘no’.
Unfortunately, the 1st dreaded answer came true. It wasn’t the awful experience I had the previous year, but it was definitely not what I hoped to hear. It is now a couple of years after that meeting and I am still at the same job. I had to have many more meetings and with each meeting have had to overcome the fears that come hand in hand when you are respectfully trying to stand up for what you believe you are entitled to and worked extremely hard for. While I have not received my raise in full, compromises were made from both sides and, right now that is ok.
This experience tested the true belief and confidence I had within myself. It taught me many things: you must take each failure as an opportunity to learn something new that can help you in the future, to take emotions out of it and focus on the conversation on what you do, to come out of your comfort zone and speak up even though your voice may shake at the start, to know what works best with the boss you have and most importantly, feel secure in your worth and never let that waiver; for that is the solid foundation that will get your through it all!