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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 June 19, 2019

    6 Ways to Be a Successful Risk Taker and Take More Chances

    6 Ways to Be a Successful Risk Taker and Take More Chances

    I’ve stood on the edge of my own personal cliffs many times. Each time I jumped, something different happened. There were risks that started off great, but eventually faded. There were risks that left me falling until I hit the ground. There were risks that started slow, but built into massive successes.

    Every risk is different, but every risk is the same. You need to have some fundamentals ready before you jump, but not too many.

    It wouldn’t be a risk if you knew everything that was about to happen, would it? Here’re 6 ways to be a successful risk taker.

    1. Understand That Failure Is Going to Happen a Lot

    It’s part of life. Everything we do has failure attached to it. All successful people have stories of massive failure attached to them. Thinking that your risk is going to be pain free and run as smooth as silk is insane.

    Expect some pain and failure. Actually, expect a lot of it. Expect the sleepless nights with crazy thoughts of insecurity that leave you trembling under the covers. It’s going to happen, no matter how positive you are about the risk you are about to take.

    When failure hits, the only options are to keep going or quit. If you expect falling into a meadow of flowers and frolicking unicorns, then you’re going to immediately quit once you realize that getting to that meadow requires you to go through a rock filled cave filled with hungry bats.

    2. Trust the Muse

    Writing a story isn’t a big risk. It’s really just a risk on my time. So when I start writing a story, I’m scared it will be time wasted. Of course, it never really is. Even if the story doesn’t turn out fabulous, I still practiced.

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    When I’ve taken risks in my life, the successful ones always seemed to happen when I followed the muse. Steven Pressfield describes the muse,

    “The Muse demands depth. Shallow does not work for her. If we’re seeking her help, we can’t stay in the kiddie end. When we work, we have to go hard and go deep.”

    The muse is a goddess who wants our attention and wants us to work on our passion.

    If you’re taking a risk in anything, it’s assumed that there is some passion built up behind that risk. That passion, deep inside you, is the muse. Trust it, focus on it, listen to it.

    The most successful articles and stories I write are the ones I’ve focused all my attention on. There were no interruptions during their creative development. I didn’t check my phone or go watch my Twitter feed. I was fully engaged in my work.

    Trust the muse, focus your attention on your risk, let the ideas and path develop themselves, and leave the distractions at the side of the road.

    3. Remember to Be Authentic

    Taking a risk and then turning into something you’re not, is only going to lead to disaster. Whether you are risking a new relationship or new opportunity, you must be yourself throughout the entire process.

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    How many times have you acted like you loved something just because the men or woman you just started going out with loved it?

    For example, I’m not an office worker. I have an incredibly hard time working in a confined timeline (ie. 9-5). That’s why I write. I can do it whenever the mood strikes, I don’t have somebody breathing down my neck, telling me that I’m five minutes late, or missed a comma somewhere. I don’t have to walk on eggshells wondering if what I’m writing will get me fired or make me lose a promotion. I can just be myself, period.

    One girlfriend didn’t understand that. She believed solely in the 9-5 motto, specifically something in human resources because that was a very stable job. I was scared for my future, but I stuck with the relationship because of my own insecurities and acted like I would do it to make her happy.

    Here’s a tip: NEVER take away from your happiness to make somebody else satisfied (note I didn’t say happy).

    Making somebody else happy will make you happy. Doing something to satisfy somebody is murder on your soul.

    4. Don’t Take Any Risks While You’re Not Clearheaded

    I’d been considering the risk for a couple weeks. It all sounded good. I was 22 and I could be rich in a couple of years. That’s what they were selling me, anyways.

    One night, while at a house party with some friends, I found myself at a computer. A couple of my friends were standing nearby and asked me what I was doing. I told them I was considering starting my own business and it was only going to cost me $1,500.

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    Of course, when a bunch of drunk people are surrounded by more drunk people, things get enthusiastic. It sounded like the best business venture in the world to everybody, including me. So I signed up and gave them my credit card number.

    A few painful months and close to $4,000 dollars lost later, I quit the business. I was young and fell into the pyramid scheme trap. It was an expensive drunk decision.

    Drinking heavily and making decisions has a proven track record of failure. So when you have something important to decide, don’t let your emotions take over your brain.

    5. Fully Understand What You’re Risking

    It was the start of my baseball comeback. I got a tryout with a professional scout and killed it. After the tryout, he talked to my girlfriend and myself, making sure we understood I would be gone for up to 6 months at a time. That strain on the relationship could be tough.

    We understood. I left to play ball, chose to stay in the city I played in, and a year later we broke up. Not because of baseball, see point 3 above. Taking big risks can have massive impacts on everything in your life from relationships to money. Know what you’re risking before you take the risk.

    If you believe the risk will be worth it or you have the support you need from your family, then go ahead and make the leap.

    You can get more guidance on how to take calculated risks from this article: How to Take Calculated Risk to Achieve More and Become Successful

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    6. Remember This Is Your One Shot Only

    As far as we know officially, this is our one shot at life, so why not take some risks?

    The top thing people are saddened by on their deathbeds are these regrets. They wish they did more, asked that girl in the coffee shop out, spoke out when they should have, or did what they were passionate about.

    Don’t regret. Learn and experience. Live. Take the risks you believe in. Be yourself and make the world a better place.

    Now go ahead, take that risk and be successful at it!

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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