#11 Negotiation with Meg Myers Morgan

Updated: May 13


Website TED Talk Keynote Speech Book Everything Is Negotiable Book Harebrained eBook How to Nail Your Interview and Negotiate Your Salary

Contact For Speaking or Coaching meg@megmyersmorgan.com


Meg On Social Media: Instagram Facebook LinkedIn Twitter


Amy Riordan "Women are already paid less, so when we reveal what we're currently making, our new salary gets based off that, and it continues to stay low." - Dr. Meg Myers Morgan

Amy Riordan Welcome to The Amy Riordan Podcast. They say owning a business is a journey in self development, so I decided to explore just that. Whether you're an entrepreneur or looking for fulfillment in your day to day life, get inspired here through interviews, life stories and proven self help techniques. What you do with the information received in this podcast is completely up to you, but if you act, you will alter the course of your life in ways you never could have possibly imagined. I'm Amy Riordan. Let's do this. 

  Amy Riordan Today I got to interview Dr Meg Myers Morgan. She's an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma and the author of two different books, one of which is a collection of essays called Hairbrained. It's hysterical. The other is a book called Everything is Negotiable, and that's actually what we're discussing. In this interview, she's gonna tell you all about how you can negotiate with yourself as well as how you can negotiate your salary and you guys, if you're listening right now, this interview is pure gold. So listen up. 

  Amy Riordan Hi, Meg. Thank you so much for visiting out today. I'm really excited. Interview you. Tell me a little bit about yourself and your book.

Meg Myers Morgan Yes. So it's good to be here, Amy, thank you for having me. So my book is called, Everything Is Negotiable and the premise of it came from my work as a Professor. Im an Assistant Professor at the University of Oklahoma and I teach strictly graduate students in a professional program that's around management and leadership. And so I saw all of these examples of predominantly young women, usually in their thirties, trying to negotiate a job. Sometimes job salaries, sometimes just their stuff it at home. Like trying to get, you know, their spouse to do more around the house or help with the kids or just the negotiation they have with their self about coming back to school and taking on more. And so I saw all of these examples and, you know, I really see my job as a Professor as helping people on their journey to whatever it is that they're trying to do. Usually curate a really good career. And so that became a TED Talk, where I outlined three negotiating strategies for young women, although I think it's really applicable to men as well. And that was really based on my own struggles, as at the time I had really young kids and my daughter is a really strong negotiator. And so I sort of used this idea of my young girls being really good at negotiating and looking at women in their thirties and saying, 'Why can they not negotiate in that way?' And so that became a TED Talk and then that became a book. So as it sits now, I coach women who are in leadership. I teach women in the classroom, and I write and speak about negotiation all over the country.  

Amy Riordan Awesome. And this is a really, really interesting concept to me because your daughter, specifically your oldest correct?

Meg Myers Morgan Yes.

Amy Riordan She's just taught you so much about negotiation. Tell us a little bit more about that.  

Meg Myers Morgan Yeah, she's taught me so much about everything. So I have two Children, one is 8 and one is 5; two daughters and my oldest daughter is like this incessant negotiator and she does all the things right. Which is, she doesn't care what you think about her. She goes after everything that she wants. She doesn't just limit herself to one thing, and then she relentlessly negotiates. So she's it's not that she won't take 'No' for an answer, but she will consistently just sort of ramrod you about what she needs. And I just found it so fascinating because I thought, at what point will that potentially get tamped out of her? And I had this concern of like, while it's exhausting to be her mother sometimes, I also don't want that to change when she gets older. And that has to be, you know, true that we were all good at that at some point. And then I thought, well, maybe she was just born that way. She just, you just, hit the ground being a good negotiator. But then we had our second child, who's much more passive and has a calmer demeanor, and I thought, Okay, well, then it is just something that you're born with. But my oldest was able to teach my youngest how to be a strong negotiator. So then I realized you can be born with it, but negotiation is also just a skill that you can be taught and be really good at. And so that's sort of what I try to tell women is yes, you're gonna feel uncomfortable, but negotiation is just like confidence, its actually a skill that you develop. And I think a lot of people get very stressed at the word negotiation because they think it means conflict. And I don't see it that way at all, mostly because my daughter and I aren't necessarily fighting. We are negotiating, and so being able to do that with somebody that you love makes you realize kind of the easier components about doing that with your boss or a friend or even yourself.

Amy Riordan I can see that. So how many years has it been since you wrote the book?

Meg Myers Morgan So the book came out in 2018, so I would have written it in 2016 bridging into 17. And TED Talk came out in 2015. So I've been now sort of five years of, talking and truly training people on how to negotiate. And when I talk about it, you know, I really meant sort of in a universal way of like, knowing what it is that you want and arguing for what it is that you want and actually feeling okay about wanting things. But a lot of times companies will call me in and have the train, their employees on how to negotiate a salary. And at the university I've worked with, I mean, it could be upwards of 200 now students on salary negotiation when they get their jobs. And so that comes very fluid to me, too. So it's really just, It's both kind of this bigger concept of like, 'What is it that I need and I want?' And also, 'How do I actually ask for more money?' So I get, like, a nice blend of both of those things.

Amy Riordan So tell me a little bit about negotiating your salary. What are a few of the tips that you give people when you're discussing it?  

Meg Myers Morgan So, one of the biggest - as we know, there's a gender wage gap in terms of of women getting paid less than men and a part of that is because women don't negotiate. That's a part of it because they never want to make it seem like it's our fault that we don't. But,  in what we can control, if we can negotiate, that will help the gap a little bit. So one of the first things to know is you should never reveal your salary, your current salary, because what happens is women are already paid less. And so when we reveal what we're currently making, our new salary gets based off that, and it continues to stay low. You are paid based on the job you're being asked to do, not on the job that you did. And so this just is such a stumbling block. So here, here's what I'll say if it asks on an application, if you're filling out an application, don't answer the question. If it asks you to answer the question, just put in a zero because nobody is going to think that you're going to work for free. Just to get around the system, put in a symbol or something to just sort of bypass the computer robot. If you are asked in an interview or you're asked in a screening call. The answer that I like to say is, 'Once I know more about the job requirements, I'd be happy to discuss salary with you.' But one of the biggest things that I have learned about women and even myself, is just because you are asked a question does not mean you have to answer it. So you can... I mean, I don't know that I would go as far as to say I don't feel comfortable answering that question, but I think there's very diplomatic ways to put it back on them. So always let them talk first, because before anyone can put up a job ad and be trying to hire for somebody, they've already set a range. So they already have in their mind what they're willing to pay, so there's no advantage to you to speak first. The second thing is, you always need to counter because they're expecting that. Companies expect people to counter, so they're always gonna offer in a lower range, and a lot of women are most concerned - In fact, most of the talks I give her around this crucial component that we're worried what people are going to think if we negotiate; that we're going to seem greedy or we're going to seem ungrateful. And I just say there are also other ways that you could be perceived by negotiating. You could be perceived as strong willed and competent and aware of your own value. But often the negotiation is, I would say, 90% of the negotiations I help people with are emails, where they will email back and say, I'm so excited for this opportunity, but given my skill set and the job requirements, can we look at a salary of X? And then whatever X is and the rule of thumb that I tell people is 10% over what they ask you is a pretty good counter, and that is completely that is, completely just a ah blanket standard. It certainly depends on industry. I've had instances where women were offered at an incredibly low salary, and so 10% wasn't gonna be enough. But you don't have as much leverage in negotiating till before you take the job. That is the most leverage you have. And so what you don't want to do is get in a situation where you think, 'Well, I'll just re-negotiate at my one year mark,' because at that point, it's gonna be so much harder to move that needle because they're so excited about you and they've worked so hard to find you, they're sitting on their in saying, 'Gosh, I hope she takes the job.' And so in the instances where people say, 'Well, what if they were send the offer?' I've never worked with anyone where that's happened; I have heard of it happening, but do you wanna work for a place that rescinds an offer that you so reasonably countered for? So those are kind of the things that I talk about two women around negotiating your salary that it's expected. So you need to be countering, cause you're leaving money on the table. So, yeah.

Amy Riordan This is so important. I cannot tell you how many times I have told them my current salary. I cannot tell you, and I love that you have guidelines, you know, you're not just saying like negotiate. You're saying, like, ask for 10% over that counter and I love that you have words to give them on how to do it appropriately without seeming super vulnerable or yeah, coming off is greedy. That means a lot.  

Meg Myers Morgan Yeah, and I will say, this is in the book, so you'll know this story. But my first job out of college, I just took the salary and I was really excited because it wasn't, you know, nothing. Which was what I was making in college on. And then I later found out the CEO of the organization brought me into her office about three months later and she said, you know, we hired in Paul and Paul was my equal, and he was making 5000 year more than I was. And she said, he didn't you know, we didn't offer him 5000 more. He asked for more, and she said, 'We're gonna keep this very quiet, but I'm gonna go ahead and raise your salary to match his. But you can never let this happen again.' And honestly, I had no idea you could do that. Like, at what point in a person's life has somebody said to you, you can negotiate your salary? So I was 21 at the time, I'm telling this to people that sometimes are in their late forties and didn't know that they could do that. So that was a woman; that CEO was almost in her seventies and pulled in a 21 year old to say, 'Hey, this is how you play the game.' So she got me points on the board and then taught me how to play the game. And so there has to be information sharing, especially among women who are very concerned about how they're being gonna be perceived. Men do not worry about the perception, at least in the research, around negotiation, but I know women do. We worry about that perception of just asking for more. So I think the guidelines are crucial for you to pull someone aside after you have done it and say, 'Don't forget to negotiate, negotiate your salary.'

Amy Riordan This so valuable; it really is. So since we're talking a little bit about your mentor at that level, go ahead and tell me a little bit about how you mentor your students when they're indecisive about the two different things that they want to do it really love that point.

Meg Myers Morgan Yeah, the most common thing that I hear -  well, it's twofold. A lot of people that come back to graduate school will come to me and say, I need a whole new career and I always sort of tell this story that, you know, sometimes I'll come home like a couple of weeks ago, I came home and my husband was traveling and it was raining and I had the girls and I had to feed them dinner and the dogs were barking and the house was dirty. And I was like, I just need a new husband and new kids in a new house, like I just have to start over. This is not working. So really, it's very common for when people get stressed, where they have something, some kind of pain point, they just want to throw it all away. They want a whole new career. I'm unhappy at this job, so I need a whole new career. I hear that all the time. So often it's me kind of telling them. Okay, we need to think about what the actual pain point is, and most of the time, the pain point around people's career is boredom. I need a new challenge. And the inherent drawback there is, boredom comes from mastery. So at the same time that you have mastered your job or you've mastered a skill, it comes with boredom. And so you don't even recognize you've become an expert, all you recognizes is you're not challenged. So part of that is just reframing and recognizing. Hey, you've mastered something, be excited about that. The second thing is, it's very easy to negotiate a challenge, right? You could create a new project for yourself at work. You could maybe even go outside of work and do a master's degree or get a hobby or something like that. Don't throw the entire career away just yet. My thing with the students is always, make sure you've stripped everything out of where you are. Like, have you used all the professional development credit or professional development opportunities? Have they sent you to all the conferences they can send you to? Have you tried everything you can? So that's that's first. The second thing is a lot of students will come in and they're just like, 'I want to do a lot of things.' And I'm a person that wants to do; I do a lot of things. I want to do a lot of things, too. But I often find that they're confusing hobbies with something that should be a full career. So that's one thing like, Oh, I'm really just, you know, a lot of times I just really love, you know, yoga. Maybe I should go be a yoga teacher. Okay, Well, you could be a yoga teacher, you know, on the side. Or you could, you know, whatever - collect rocks - or whatever your hobby is, but we're kind of a nation that has geared ourselves toward making money off of everything that we like to do. But I would say the biggest struggle; I'm like taking a very long winded approach to this answer, but the struggle with choices is people don't think they know how to make them, and they haven't really identified the actual pain point. So, the metaphor that I always give my students is, it's like a sink, and you're trying to fill up the water, but the drain in the middle is always the same problem. Your problem in this moment of not being able to know what you want to do with your life is the same problem you're having in other aspects of your life. And so a great example was, recently a student was in my office and was talking about this. 'I don't know what I want to do with my life', and she's mid-thirties and is an expert in data analysis, and she's like, just a really cool person but could not see that in herself. And so when we got down to the root of what was bothering her, she just wasn't feeling validated in her work, right? And so instead of, like she was trying to go seek that out somewhere else, seek out validation somewhere else. And so, until you fix that driving problem, whether it's being validated or feeling competent or being bored, that is going to follow you to the next choice. And often, when you just clear that part up, the choice becomes obvious. Oh, I want to stay at my job or I want a different job, but you will find that people make their choices based on - and a big chapter of the book is confusing your wants. You'll look and find that your friend just got promoted and maybe you should be wanting to be promoted or your friend just had a kid and maybe you want a kid and we're very comparison-driven society. And I do it now, like I feel really, really, really good up until the point that I go drop my kids off at school and I see other moms with, like, their hair perfect or something, or they're bringing cookies for the teacher. And I'm like, 'Oh, should I be bringing cookies or the teacher?' So I think our wants and our choices - there's just a lot that's influencing even the choices that are available to us.

Amy Riordan How would you recommend figuring that out? Like what do you tell them to figure out whether or not it's validation or competence that they're searching for.

Meg Myers Morgan Yes. So what I normally ask is, if they're faced with that an actual choice, I will say how many people are in the room - in the mental room for this decision? Because the majority of the time, your inability to make a choice is completely married to what you are concerned other people think. So we get paralyzed in moving forward when there's somebody else's opinion hanging there. Most of the time, when a student is really just agonizing over something, after we talk about it, they will say something like, 'I'm just worried what my dad will think', or I'm worried that it won't look, you know, there's a lot in there around, like prestige or, if this will look important enough, right? And so it's like, 'Well, who all is in the room for that decision?' And often, when I can get them to clear out those extra voices that are in the room, they suddenly know what they want to do. So I always say, If you are paralyzed by choice, there is something there around being worried about what other people think. You never want to just eliminate that entirely, you know, worrying about what people think. But if it is impacting your ability, to move forward, that then that's a problem. And so what are you worried about? What those people are gonna think? And once you name that, that's your problem. I'm worried they're gonna think I'm not important enough. OK, then you have an issue with yourself not feeling important enough for yourself not feeling prestigious enough or competent enough or whatever the case may be.

Amy Riordan Excellent. All really, really good. And I can see that, I have issues with validation for sure. So if you are speaking to someone about negotiation, how could you go about practicing that? You know, like, self confidence is something that you can build on and practice on. How would you practice negotiation in your own home?  

Meg Myers Morgan In your own home? You mean salary or just otherwise?

Amy Riordan Just in general, how would you - I mean, I guess that's very, very general, maybe let's say with yourself, how do you negotiate with yourself? You know, practice catching yourself when you're not negotiating properly?  

Meg Myers Morgan That's a good question. No one's ever asked me that. I think that, because it is true. and you read the book, that the biggest negotiation is against yourself, right? And so I've never actually had someone say like how do I win against myself? Which is exactly what we're all trying to do. But self doubt and negative self talk is so incredibly toxic and stops more inventions and promotions and fun than anything else, is just this negative self talk. And I want to be very clear here to listeners and to you. You write the book that you needed. Right? So this is clearly a struggle that I have had; is being able to identify what it is that I want; being able to appreciate that I'm worthy of it and then asking for it. So I am by no means somebody that just came out and knew this. I had to give birth to somebody to teach me how to negotiate, but I would say, if you can stop... O kay, let me back up. If you can identify when and what is going on that makes you not move forward. So a lot of times we're looking for the why, 'Why do I not want to do this' or 'why do I not feel confident?' And I think, why is helpful. But I don't... a lot of people can identify their why, and their behaviors don't really change. So sometimes it's a fun exercise to think about when and how do I stop myself. So I noticed that I would stop myself when I was feeling intimidated. And it was much easier for me to notice that versus trying to figure out why. Because when you try to figure out why, you're kind of being judgmental about yourself, 'Why are you like this, Meg?' But if you figure out how, like how I was doing it, and so how I was doing it, I would downplay my own accomplishments, I would just be in the face of somebody that I perceived to be more important than me or I perceived to have done more than I did, and I would immediately come at them like I was less than they were, and I would notice I would do this even and like e mails. I would be very gushy or apologetic or whatever. And once I noticed like how I did that, I could start to change that behavior, even though my mind hadn't quite caught up with. 'You're equal to these people' and I think that having recognized the ways in which I hold myself back was the easiest way to be able to negotiate better because then I could see 'Oh, this is where you're kind of stripping yourself; or your lowering who you are or you're not giving yourself enough worth. And then you could just start to do different and to be different. And now it's; I wouldn't dream of coming into a room and acting as if I was less than, but that I mean, that took some time. But, you know, that's one thing is just recognizing where you're stopping yourself and in what situations are you in? Is it a particular type of people that make you not want to move forward or not or not think you're good enough? Is it a certain situation? I just think kind of being a little bit more curious about what you're doing versus maybe judgey? Yeah.

Amy Riordan This is actually like genius, because if you think about why, I mean, if you think about the word, why, if my husband came up to me and said, 'Why did you do this?' I'd feel a little bit like a little kid. Like, 'I don't know, I was being stupid. Sorry.' Where as, like, how? Yeah, right? Where as like, the word how is different, because I'd be able to explain myself or, like, feel like I wasn't being stupid. I'm or analyzing what I did.  

Meg Myers Morgan Yes.

Amy Riordan I love that.

Meg Myers Morgan And then you're not apologizing, and you're not judging yourselves. You're actually just looking at yourself like you're not even yourself. You're just, like, kind of analyzing in an objective way. And that makes people way more comfortable judging themselves. Because what happens is, what I've noticed is, the more that you feel, whatever the issue is... so self doubt, the more you will revert to the habits. So in the same breath, you're wanting to be different. You're gonna act the same. So if you notice it if you condone, come over here and notice it this way rather than the why you could just change your behaviors. And once you change your behaviors, you start to actually feel differently about yourself.

Amy Riordan I can see that completely.  

Meg Myers Morgan The other thing I say is, I had a friend who is in this relationship, and she cannot figure out if she wants to still be in this relationship. And she's very open with the man, but she's just like, 'Why can I not answer this question?' And I always say, 'If you cannot answer the question. You're asking the wrong question. Your question clearly isn't should I still be with this guy? It's something else. So figure out, change your question.' And I think, when we're banging your head against the wall, when these students come in, like I don't know what I want to do is my life. I'm like, maybe that's a dumb question. Maybe your life is too much pressure. Maybe the question is what I want to do next? or what do I feel alive when I'm doing or what do I need to feel good about myself? But if you've set with the question, I mean you're - everyone's a competent, full person, whole human. If we can't answer a basic question, it's probably a bad question.

Amy Riordan Uh, so good! We have a LOT to contemplate today, but I'm not even kidding. So before we go, I want to know, hat's next for you? What are you up to? You have any projects you want tell us about or any new thing?  

Amy Riordan Sure. Well, the book has done well and it's actually been translated in multiple languages, which has been really exciting. And it's also led to me traveling around and giving a lot of key notes and then doing a lot of coaching with, as I said before sort of CEOs, women CEOs that are, or even just women in leadership that aren't my students. So I'm actually able to do this work with people outside of the classroom, which is incredibly fulfilling for me. And I've really enjoyed that. And then I'm working on the next book, which I cannot give details with now, but it definitely, it definitely is in the same vein of exactly what you and I were talking about. It's it's little things that hold us back, and how do we reach up to the next the next rung? And when you reach up to the next rung, you're having to let go of another rung, and what are we letting go up and how it would be okay with that?

Amy Riordan Oh, I'm so excited about another black. That's awesome! So I'm gonna bug you again about that other book. I will. And again, thank you. So so much for agreeing to be on podcasts.

Meg Myers Morgan You're welcome. Thank you for having me. I want to plug my website if it's helpful.  

Amy Riordan Oh, yeah. Do it. Say it out loud.

Meg Myers Morgan  Meg Myers Morgan dot com. I have an e book that tells you exactly what to say when you're negotiating your salary on Amazon. So, if that could be helpful, or how to nail your interview, I've compiled that into an ebook as well. And then  if anyone wants to get a hold of me, that's the easiest way to contact me.

Amy Riordan Excellent, and we'll make sure the link all of those individual things and maybe a few other extra little things beneath this interview. And if anybody has any questions you can reach out to Meg or myself at any time. Thank you again so much. 

   Meg Myers Morgan Thank you Amy. 

Amy Riordan Amy Riordan is a weekly podcast brought to you by me, Amy Riordan. Love this podcast? Leave me Review and share it with friends. You can also find me on social media. Subscribe to this podcast for all new episode notifications. With questions, topic requests or interviewee nominations, visit AmyRiordan.com. Curious about specific content mentioned in each episode? Those details are linked below.

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