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How Not to Ask

How Not to Ask


    (Editor’s Note: The following article is an excerpt from the book Knowing Your Value: Women, Money, and Getting What You’re Worth by Mika Brzezinski. Brzezinski is a co-host of Morning Joe, an MSNBC anchor and author of All Things at Once. She is also co-host of The Joe Scarborough Show on Citadel Media. She is the mother of two daughters, Emilie and Carlie, and has been married for fifteen years to an investigative journalist at ABC. For more information on the author, visit her website or follow her on Twitter.)

    Many of us need to rethink the way we ask for promotions and raises, because when we do ask, often it ain’t pretty. Just listen to the answers I hear when I ask, “Are there differences in the way men and women ask you for raises and promotions?”

    “‘I know you’re busy, I know you don’t have time . . . ‘” — Valerie Jarrett

    Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett has been the boss in a variety of workplaces. When I ask whether she sees a difference in approach between men and women when asking for raises and promotions, she says, “Amazingly, men are almost detached from it emotionally. They’re really comfortable . . . Women are much more timid and appreciative and polite. Men are very matter of fact, businesslike, unemotional. It isn’t really personal.”

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    “Women are emotional?” I ask.

    “Emotional in the sense of apologetic . . . I remember one woman in particular who started with, “I know you’re busy, I know you don’t have time . . . ”

    “Basically saying, ‘Don’t give me the raise’?”

    “She backed into it badly, is the way I would say it.” Valerie tells me.

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    “Apologetic” and “tentative” are two adjectives I heard over and over. The editor-in-chief of Newsweek and The Daily Beast, Tina Brown says women often start to apologize with their body language before they even open their mouth. Then they’ll begin by saying, “Well, you know, I’ve been here for a while and I’ve been thinking a lot about this . . . Men come in and they just say, ‘Hey, I’m not doing this anymore unless I get X.’ And you think, ‘Of course, of course, of course,’ you know, you must take care of Joe, Fred, whomever. But women don’t do that. They just come in and they look sad . . . And we can’t do that!”

    “‘I didn’t really want to come to you with this . . .'” — Carol Bartz

    I ask Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz, “Have you ever had a woman ask for a raise and apologize for imposing?”

    “Oh, absolutely,” she says. Bartz trots out a few she’s heard: “‘I didn’t really want to come to you with this, but, gosh, do you think my bonus percentage could be higher?’ And, ‘Gee could you just think about it?’ When they say, ‘I don’t know if you’ll consider,’ right away they are giving you an out. Of course I wouldn’t consider, you just told me not to consider . . . when somebody gives you the reason you can say no, it just makes your job easier.”

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    And men?

    Men will say ‘”I believe I’m undervalued here,'” Bartz tells me. “And that’s always code for ‘I’m going someplace where they value me, and it’s for these reasons.'”

    “When men ask for raises there’s always some cost,” ad exec Donny Deutsch says. “It’s always ‘because I did this’ and ‘if I don’t get the raise . . . ‘ There’s always [an imaginary] gun to the head, some gamesmanship. First of all, women don’t ask as much. And when they do ask, it’s not ‘Give it to me or else.'”

    When you combine my experience with what I heard from the bosses above, I have to say we women stink at this. Just look at our best opening lines:

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    • “I’m sorry.”
    • “I know you’re busy.”
    • “I don’t know if you have the time.”
    • “I don’t know if you’ll consider . . . “
    • “I don’t know if this is possible . . . “
    • “I hate to do this.”
    • “I don’t know if there’s room for this in the budget.”
    • “I’m sorry if the timing is bad.”

    I think I’ve managed to use everyone of those phrases in my attempts to get a raise. Of course, I used an additional strategy, too — what More editor Lesley Jane Seymour calls “playing the victim card.” Seymour says women “present their personal challenges, saying things like, ‘Well, I have this situation’ or ‘I have that burden’ or ‘My mother is ill and I have to support her’ or whatever. Women present their cause, and you have to realize it’s not a manager’s job to support your causes, whatever they might be . . . The companies can’t say, ‘Oh, I feel sorry for you.”’

    (Photo credit: Question Mark Blackboard Sign via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on December 10, 2019

    5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

    5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

    Here’s the truth: your effectiveness at life is not what it could be. You’re missing out.

    Each day passes by and you have nothing to prove that it even happened. Did you achieve something? Go on a date? Have an emotional breakthrough? Who knows?

    But what you do know is that you don’t want to make the same mistakes that you’ve made in the past.

    Our lives are full of hidden gems of knowledge and insight, and the most recent events in our lives contain the most useful gems of all. Do you know why? It’s simple, those hidden lessons are the most up to date, meaning they have the largest impact on what we’re doing right now.

    But the question is, how do you get those lessons? There’s a simple way to do it, and it doesn’t involve time machines:

    Journal writing.

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    Improved mental clarity, the ability to see our lives in the big picture, as well as serving as a piece of evidence cataloguing every success we’ve ever had; we are provided all of the above and more by doing some journal writing.

    Journal writing is a useful and flexible tool to help shed light on achieving your goals.

    Here’s 5 smart reasons why you should do journal writing:

    1. Journals Help You Have a Better Connection with Your Values, Emotions, and Goals

    By journaling about what you believe in, why you believe it, how you feel, and what your goals are, you understand your relationships with these things better. This is because you must sort through the mental clutter and provide details on why you do what you do and feel what you feel.

    Consider this:

    Perhaps you’ve spent the last year or so working at a job you don’t like. It would be easy to just suck it up and keep working with your head down, going on as if it’s supposed to be normal to not like your job. Nobody else is complaining, so why should you, right?

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    But a little journal writing will set things straight for you. You don’t like your job. You feel like it’s robbing you of happiness and satisfaction, and you don’t see yourself better there in the future.

    The other workers? Maybe they don’t know, maybe they don’t care. But you do, you know and care enough to do something about it. And you’re capable of fixing this problem because your journal writing allows you to finally be honest with yourself about it.

    2. Journals Improve Mental Clarity and Help Improve Your Focus

    If there’s one thing journal writing is good for, it’s clearing the mental clutter.

    How does it work? Simply, whenever you have a problem and write about it in a journal, you transfer the problem from your head to the paper. This empties the mind, allowing allocation of precious resources to problem-solving rather than problem-storing.

    Let’s say you’ve been juggling several tasks at work. You’ve got data entry, testing, e-mails, problems with the boss, and so on—enough to overwhelm you—but as you start journal writing, things become clearer and easier to understand: Data entry can actually wait till Thursday; Bill kindly offered earlier to do my testing; For e-mails, I can check them now; the boss is just upset because Becky called in sick, etc.

    You become better able to focus and reason your tasks out, and this is an indispensable and useful skill to have.

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    3. Journals Improve Insight and Understanding

    As a positive consequence of improving your mental clarity, you become more open to insights you may have missed before. As you write your notes out, you’re essentially having a dialogue with yourself. This draws out insights that you would have missed otherwise; it’s almost as if two people are working together to better understand each other. This kind of insight is only available to the person who has taken the time to connect with and understand themselves in the form of writing.

    Once you’ve gotten a few entries written down, new insights can be gleaned from reading over them. What themes do you see in your life? Do you keep switching goals halfway through? Are you constantly dating the same type of people who aren’t good for you? Have you slowly but surely pushed people out of your life for fear of being hurt?

    All of these questions can be answered by simply self-reflecting, but you can only discover the answers if you’ve captured them in writing. These questions are going to be tough to answer without a journal of your actions and experiences.

    4. Journals Track Your Overall Development

    Life happens, and it can happen fast. Sometimes we don’t take the time to stop and look around at what’s happening to us at each moment. We don’t get to see the step-by-step progress that we’re making in our own lives. So what happens? One day it’s the future, and you have no idea how you’ve gotten there.

    Journal writing allows you to see how you’ve changed over time, so you can see where you did things right, and you can see where you took a misstep and fell.

    The great thing about journals is that you’ll know what that misstep was, and you can make sure it doesn’t happen again—all because you made sure to log it, allowing yourself to learn from your mistakes.

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    5. Journals Facilitate Personal Growth

    The best thing about journal writing is that no matter what you end up writing about, it’s hard to not grow from it. You can’t just look at a past entry in which you acted shamefully and say “that was dumb, anyway!” No, we say “I will never make a dumb choice like that again!”

    It’s impossible not to grow when it comes to journal writing. That’s what makes journal writing such a powerful tool, whether it’s about achieving goals, becoming a better person, or just general personal-development. No matter what you use it for, you’ll eventually see yourself growing as a person.

    Kickstart Journaling

    How can journaling best be of use to you? To vent your emotions? To help achieve your goals? To help clear your mind? What do you think makes journaling such a useful life skill?

    Know the answer? Then it’s about time you reap the benefits of journal writing and start putting pen to paper.

    Here’s what you can do to start journaling:

    Featured photo credit: Jealous Weekends via unsplash.com

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