How one female entrepreneur is helping women negotiate in business
“You had the power all along, my dear.” -Glinda the Good Witch, The Wizard of Oz
My first day on the job, I got pulled over. My boss was in the passenger seat, and we were on the way to renew her license at the DMV. Focusing more on her email than on the road, she had told me to turn left.
Blinker on, in the middle of the intersection, I saw the words in their (unfairly small) red font: No Left Turn, 9am-11am Mon-Fri. But it was my first day, and telling her no seemed impossible. I took the turn.
What happened next was something I’d remember long after the fact. Leaning across the seat to talk to the officer, my new boss asked for something on my behalf: leniency.
“Officer, just, please…I told her to turn left. I’m her boss, and it’s her first day working for me. If you could, please, consider being lenient with her.”
The officer paused.
“It’s her first day. I told her to. I’m just asking if you could be lenient.”
He looked at me.
“How old are you?”
He looked at my license he held in his hand.
“Seventeen is too young to have a driving record.”
I couldn’t believe it. I thought the chance I was going to get let off had come and gone. I thought my fate was sealed. I was wrong.
Looking back on that first day, I see now that Annette was just doing what she always does: increasing the probability of getting what she wants simply by asking for it.
That’s actually what Annette does for a living. After working as a performance consultant and training/development program designer for corporations, Annette is now focusing on mindset and communication tools for individual clients. As a female entrepreneur, Annette wanted to orient her career around helping women negotiate in business. That’s why she founded Irresistible Requests, a multimedia coaching program focused on helping women achieve their full potential. Annette Saldana specializes in helping women ask for what they want, whether that be a higher starting salary, a raise, or a new opportunity.
My first day working for Annette, I was a timid and unassertive 17 year old girl. I didn’t feel as if I could say no to my boss at the intersection. I didn’t feel as if I could explain myself to the officer, or ask to be let off. I was silent in the face of conflict and subject to the will of others.
That was two years ago. I’d like to think I am more confident now. But I know for certain that the month I spent working for Annette changed my perspective on what is possible in situations of conflict. Now, when I’m faced with a situation, like with the police officer two years ago, where I have two choices: say nothing and not get what I want, or ask for what I want and maybe get it, I ask.
Which is what led me to ask Annette for an interview. Two years later, working on an article about the complications of the career choices women make, I realized her business plays a bigger role in working toward a better future than I understood when I worked for her.
One of the biggest reasons the gender wage gap exists is that women are less likely to negotiate for higher pay than their male coworkers. To demonstrate, a study by Carnegie Mellon University found that, of students graduating with a master’s degree, 57% of men negotiated for a higher starting salary at their first job. Only 7% of women did the same.
But Annette’s program, Irresistible Requests, is working to help women make the power moves necessary to get the pay and position they deserve. The key, according to Annette, is asking for more.
“Making a request is the most pivotal type of communication that there is,” said Saldana. “It’s what gets life to move. It’s what gets projects to go forward. It’s what creates openings and relationships. It’s what gets a raise. It’s what produces a sale. There’s no movement if you can’t ask and invite people to be in that movement.”
Annette works to help women overcome mental barriers that might keep them from making a life-changing request.
“I really teach to all genders, but there’s a reason that I’m focusing on women,” said Saldana. “Asking for what you want is hard and there’s a lot of misconceptions and barriers in our own mindsets about what that means for our future, what that means about how people will perceive us.”
Though making requests is necessary to advance a career in today’s economy, women have good reason to be cautious about asking for what they want. According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a woman who explains why she is qualified or mentions previous successes in a job interview can lower her chances of getting hired.
Annette helps women to navigate negotiation successfully by utilizing a self-assessment that outlines a woman’s leadership style within the framework of three archetypes: the Idealist, who dreams big, the Force of Nature, who relies only on herself, and the Commander in Chief, who has worked hard to get where she is and expects the same from everyone else.
Once Annette has identified which archetype her client most resembles, she works with them to identify how this affects the way they communicate.
“If you’re not aware that that’s your fundamental way of moving through the world, then you’re not owning it,” said Saldana. “You’re not responsible for it and you’re left without a flexibility or fluidity in how you speak. And therefore you could be leaving people with an impression, especially for a Commander in Chief, that actually is working against you because you asked them in such a way that they don’t want to do it for you. So you get a lot of false ‘yes’es because you’re in a position of authority and people have to say yes, but they don’t deliver.”
From there, Annette works with her client to cater their approach to negotiations by leveraging the best parts of the three archetypes when the time is right.
“Just having that as knowledge is useless,” said Saldana. “What we know is really, really useless. It’s what you do. It’s what you use. And communication and language (I think) is the most under-utilized tool that we have…in terms of what’s possible.”