It may come as a surprise in how research shows across age and internationally how when compared with men, women don’t often ask for what they need, and often settle for what is offered. They also tend to not think about negotiating for themselves.

In our recent upcoming book, full launch date March 10th, we discuss this topic thoroughly too. Grab you free sample here. If you’re reading this after March 10th you can grab a copy here too. 

After their experience in the corporate world, Linda Babcock, and Sara Laschever researched the differences between men and women in negotiating for what they need. The findings reported in their book, Women Don’t Ask are relevant in understanding women, men and meeting needs in and out of the workplace.

    Women Asking for their Needs 

    What makes the question of women asking for their needs such an important one? One of the answers is because women do ask for others, and less likely for themselves.

    Women as mothers, partners and home builders often ask for others.

    Key ways to start the mindset shift to be able to ask for anything you want:

    Generating Courage

    Bold actions require learning new mindset shifts and overcoming limiting beliefs. In order to be able to ask for more, take up space, and aim high, here are some ways to develop your mindset:

    1.)    We must understand our why: this is a huge component in aiding us to be continually courageous is understanding our why. We also need to reflect on where we want to go. Asking ourselves what we want and desire the outcome to be, and who it will benefit. We will often feel more courageous when we match our desired outcome to the high risk ask because now we have our why behind it.

    2.)    Identify Your Bottom-Line: Going into a sale or negotiation requires us to understand the lowest threshold we are having for someone to enroll in working with us and the lowest amount we are willing to accept in the negotiation.

    3.)    Understand How You Will Respond If The Answer Is “No”: Another consideration is to consider what you will do if you get a no. If you can answer that, that is a significant piece of information. What is your plan? Will you quit? Will you seek help from another mentor? Seeing beyond the potential no will allow you to go into the negotiation with a much more powerful mindset.

    4.)    The ZOFO Area: Learning to ask for what we want does not happen overnight, it takes consistent effort and practice. When we are learning to have healthy risk taking capabilities, the area we can sometimes get ourselves into is often referred to as the ZOFO (Zone of Freaking Out), until we have learned to handle healthy risk taking. If we are slightly freaked out don’t always take this as a signal that we are doing something wrong. It’s often a signal that we’re doing something brave.

    Collecting Gold Stars

    Sometimes we are pre-conditioned as little kids to ‘earn those gold stars’. I remember also there being a color system, green for great, yellow for a warning and red for a letter home in our folders, in elementary school. I often struggled to stay on green the whole day, I usually switched between yellow and green all day. If we were on green at the end of the day we received gold stars by our names.

    Women often work super hard at “collecting gold stars ”  – once they receive those gold stars this translates for them into being deserving of what they desire. Sometimes we are under the limiting belief that someone will see our hard work and immediately understand what we need and desire and give it to us. Women through research have been shown, to be often waiting for someone to see their hard work, or see their social media posts and just reach out to them, it often does not occur to them to ask directly.

    Connections vs. Needs

    Women will adjust their behavior and needs to protect personal connections.

    • “If you really want to go to the game instead of the party- we will go to the game.”
    • “I really hadn’t planned on retiring but….”

    The upside to being empathic to the needs of others is the power that it brings to connections- both in the work situation and in the home relationships. The downside of women not expressing their needs at the risk of disrupting connections is that some women never find out they are entitled to have both needs and connections. Women often feel if they ask for themselves they may risk the love stopping, or be unloved by the other person saying “no”, labeling them as “needy”, and not accepting them for what they want. Therefore, there are quite a lot of women left feeling deprived.

     Cultural Shaping

    Author, Linda Babcock underscores that from the time women are little girls they are really not encouraged to ask or aggressively pursue their needs in the same way as boys. As a result they themselves feel less entitled to ask and fear being identified as “Bitchy” or demanding if they do.  The adaptation to ask indirectly for what they need or to ask for less than what they really want rarely works well.

    In both work and home relationships, people are often mystified or frustrated by the lack of clarity.

    “I wish she would just say what she really wants.”

    “You said you wanted to stay home for your birthday – I don’t get why you’re upset.”

    Complaining is Not Asking

    • Given that women are more expressive of feelings from the time they are little girls, they are better able to ventilate to reduce stress. That does not guarantee, however, that the listener will know what they want to change, remedy or do to improve the situation.

    • In an interesting study worldwide it was found that married men do less housework than women and less housework than males who are cohabitating but not married – Does marriage take away a women’s personal feeling of entitlement to ask for help?
    • Is she complaining rather than specifically asking? Should he know?  Maybe. Does he know? Maybe not.

    A Paradoxical Couple Suggestion – Whereas we are always telling men to just listen without trying to solve the problem – here we are suggesting that women just say what they need without expressing all the feelings.

    Catch-22 for Women

    Crucial to her research findings and her thesis, Laura Babcock suggests that what has made it difficult for women to negotiate for her needs in the workplace is that she is often not re-enforced for doing so.

    Babcock and others suggest that there is still a male cultural corporate bias reflected in the fact that men and even other women tend to react more negatively to women then to men who actively pursue their needs or try to aggressively ask for what they want.

    The negative adaptation is to NOT ASK. The positive adaptation is for a woman to ask for and negotiate needs in a way that is authentic to her.

    When Women Bring Negotiation To Work

    • In the world of negotiations, the natural gender breakdown seems to be that men see negotiating as competitive winning or losing. This is the “Fixed Pie” or distributive approach – only one person gets the pie.

    • Women are much more inclined to a collaborative, integrative “growing the pie” negotiating style. This is an approach that capitalizes on cooperation and relationship building in negotiating sustaining decisions. It involves acknowledgment of cost and benefits to all parties.
    • The Corporate world uses both positions but is increasingly recognizing the viability of collaborative negotiating as the wave of the future in effecting more sustaining decisions. Women need to recognize the role they can play in asking for themselves and facilitating negotiating with others.

    Bringing It Home

    As much as partners feel like they really know each other, can answer for each other and can communicate with a smile or a mere glance – mind reading is not recommended as a great couple skill. In fact, the safer it is for partners to ask for what they need, the more they can trust a “yes,” live with a “no” and make sense of either – the more fulfilled both will be.


    You can also find more information about Allison Ramsey, Facebook Digital Marketing Professor & Empire Life Founder at Instagram, LinkedIN, Website, and Twitter. 

    To learn more about getting started with Empire Life in scaling your online empire you can contact Allison, Founder of Empire Life, on Instagram and LinkedIN.

    “This might sound grim, yet expect to fail. And to fail GREATLY. The greatest entrepreneurs you know of, yet not limited to – Suzy Batz, Tony Robbins, Gary Vee – all of them have all failed greatly, and many times, before reaching a high level of success. “

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