Turn frustration into satisfaction or: Mentor the change you want to see in the world!
I got involved into mentoring programmes out of a frustration and a hope. The frustration that sometimes I wished there was someone to give me more guidance or someone I could ask things, and the hope I could prevent other young women from repeating the same mistakes or at least avoid that they have to feel the same way.
This did two things to me that were unexpected and very positive.
Satisfaction: I got a lot of satisfaction from helping these young women negotiating better and I got the idea that it all would have a long-term impact.
In one case one of my mentees wanted me to help her prepare for a job interview. We discussed point after point and she was well prepared for any possible question regarding her experience and qualification. We were coming to an end and I asked her whether she was also ready to negotiate her salary.. quiet.. “oh you know, I really feel uncomfortable asking them for money, I thought I will just leave it up to them”. Having read books such as Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever’s ‘Why women don’t ask’ I knew exactly this was the way so many women feel and the wrong way to go for her. I turned everything around and asked her what would be a salary that would totally disappoint her and there she knew exactly what would be a salary below her market value. From there I kept asking questions around her value. Together we elaborated what would be the market value of her work with the requested competencies for that specific job with the result that the salary-figure she was going to enter the negotiation now was double as high as before her having thought through the value of her work – she got the job! But more important than her getting the job was her going through the process of assigning a value to her work and daring to negotiate and ask for it!
In another case, it was already too late for that specific job, but at least I could break a cycle by explaining the rather male mechanics of negotiating. I was laying on the couch and texting with Dana, a very good friend of mine.
If you are a bit experienced with negotiating, you know she should have asked for at least 10’000 in order to end up with her raise of 8’000. Negotiating is still a game, after all! But reality shows the picture that many people (we women in particular) often are not aware of this mechanism or game and try to ignore and avoid negotiating at all. I think she understood this now and I am glad to know this won’t happen to her again!
Mentoring can sometimes mean to help with very specific topics, it overlaps with coaching particularly when the mentoring programme is set up to support young professionals. Both these examples deal with negotiation skills, a topic that I just had intensively dealt with myself. Be aware of the topics where you can help with clear strategies that you apply directly, for example in role plays, and where you do not have a solution that you can pull out of your drawer. Not having a ready solution should be the rule in mentoring, so you can elaborate possible ways to solve your mentee’s challenges.
These are just small successes, but even though they most probably are of the size of a rice corn with their overall impact, I know they can end up changing the world. On the one hand, it could inspire my mentees to (formally or informally) mentor young people as well one day. But on the other hand, and more importantly– even if they won’t mentor themselves and totally forget about ever having had a mentor themselves – as they build confidence in these topics and act more assertive at work and in their personal lives, they help overcoming unconscious bias and pave the way for the next generations of women (and men) for situations such as confidently negotiating their salaries.
The other thing it did to me, which was even more unexpected and even more positive was that it made me see how many mentors and coaches I actually have around me. People I could ask for advice in all kind of situations at any time – I just had to reach out! Now I was realizing that my big frustration of thinking I had no one to share my professional worries with was not even justified. The awareness that I am surrounded by mentors and even coaches myself was a true eye opener and I am sure most of us are surrounded by people who are willing to support us.
The end of this blog post is the beginning of your growth – surf on your your wave of potential:
- When have you started something out of a frustration and turned it into something that gave you satisfaction?
- Have you thought of replicating this feeling with other frustrations?
- What rice-corn sized activities that will change the world in the long run do you do?
- Are there things you do at work, at home or in your community where you do not see a clear short-term output but could attribute a long-term benefit? See yourself doing it in 1 year and in 5 years, how do you feel?
Are you looking for a sparring partner to support you in your personal growth? Reach out now.
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