On My Terms... "But I'm A Fraud!"

I have spent quite a bit of time in the past five years encouraging others to make sure to take care of themselves in the professional environment...Not being afraid to ask for what they want.
  1. Drawing a line and finding that appropriate "balance" between work life and personal life.
  2. Always asking for more money than what's offered in the initial statement.
  3. Asking for that promotion.
  4. Asking for that raise.
  5. Asking for that opportunity.
  6. Asking for that transfer.
I coach people who interview with me, work for me, have worked for me or who simply read my blog through these things. I tell them, "The worst anyone can tell you is 'no.'" But where I have pumped up others (both female and male), I have failed to encourage myself to do completely.

Especially item number two. The truth is, I have been very bad at negotiating in any new offer for myself.

INSANE! I know. And it peeves my husband to no end.

"Don't accept the role! Don't accept the first offer!"

I tell myself that in my head. But then I think, "The offer seems genuine and generous. And I don't want to drag this out any longer." But even I know that you are typically only so powerful and able to get what you want at that initial offer.

Despite having such a bad negotiation history for myself, I've been able to get what I want pretty quickly into any tenure I have with a company. It takes about six months, and I work hard to prove myself. But I repeatedly do a disservice to myself with this practice.

"I can't believe YOU of all people don't negotiate," said Frogger at dinner the other night.  She has heard my lectures about negotiating for yourself. And she has seen me negotiate in business on deals. I am kind, but straightforward.

"Why can't you do this for yourself?" she asked.

Well, it's a guilty feeling. Both Sheryl Sandberg and Tina Fey wrote about it in their books.  It's the "I'm a fraud" feeling.  The feeling that "everyone is going to quickly figure out that I don't know what I'm doing! The jig will be up!"

Frogger pointed out that this is "stupid." That I am very good at what I do, and I never give myself enough credit. Both my most recent boss and HR manager said the same thing to me.

Shit, even my trainer - Camp - pointed it out to me the other day.

"You really don't give yourself enough credit. I wish you wouldn't settle," he said.

He was referencing my most recent consulting project I was considering taking on to my plate. It was for a large brand based here in New England. But it was work I already did in my career about seven years ago. I was considering it because it would be a great way to make a path for myself in the company and then leverage it into a full time multi-responsibility gig. Only problem: It would require commuting (what I thought was only rarely) to a city in New England that public transportation doesn't go to. Turns out, the company actually needs me to go commute to this remote city at least TWICE A WEEK.

Camp, my husband and my best friend were all correct... If I took this role, what would have been the point in quitting my most recent job? I left that role because it wasn't based in Boston and required me to spend quite a bit of time on a train to and from NYC.

"Don't settle and DO negotiate," encouraged Frogger.

So I turned the long term contract role down. I wanted it. But my gut told me "no."

"And get it out of your head that you're a 'fraud'," Camp told me.

One of these days, I promise I'll be a "grown-up" when it comes to matters for myself. Not just with matters for everyone else.

The Husband is very pleased I didn't cave and take the role as is. He would like to see me in the role. But on my terms.

1 comment:

Simmm said...

Check out this paper about the imposter syndrome in high achieving women:

http://www.suzanneimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Imposter-Phenomenon.pdf

I get the "I'm a fraud" thoughts as well, though it is getting a little better as time passes and I gain more experience in my field. Haven't found a cure yet though.