The Lyrics to Negotiating Your Worth…

Does the thought of asking for what you’re worth make you uncomfortable? Or worse, does it make you feel guilty?

Let’s explore why that might be. Have you been told, “you’re lucky to work in an industry people would die to get an opportunity to be part of’?”

At surface level it’s true, people would love to be part of this industry – but where’s the evidence that this statement equals: “you don’t deserve to be here’?” What someone says, versus what we hear and interpret it to mean, can trigger the arrival of our old unfriend Ms Imposter Syndrome.

It shouldn’t – if you work hard, deliver the results that are expected of you, and positively contribute to the organisation’s culture – you are not an imposter, and it is not unreasonable to talk about your worth.

So, if you’d like to have a healthy discussion about the value you bring to your organisation, let’s unpack the 3 stanzas to a conversation about your worth.

1st Verse: Gather your evidence

Discussions about worth involve a number of layers, and how you prepare will help set you up for success. The first ‘verse’ is to gather contextual information, here are three suggestions of where to start:

1. Look at similar roles to yours to understand what the responsibilities involve and remuneration is – talk to a recruiter or spend some time on job boards.

2. Write out what you do today, versus what you were employed to do – create a side-by-side comparison with your position description.

3. Explore the ‘rules’ – what’s the company policy on annual reviews and changes to the remuneration. When are they typically discussed, what are the guidelines for change, etc?

Knowing this information means you can start to get a gauge on where you are, against where you want to be.

It also helps you see when the best time to start the conversation is. Let’s say reviews for your organisation are typically in March, “when should you have the conversation?”

Start the conversation TODAY!!! Don’t let this process ‘happen to you’, take action and set up a time to explore what your boss thinks about how you’re tracking towards where you want to go*. “I want to have this conversation today, because I want to stay here, and I want to know that there’s a plan for my growth.”

*Side note – if it hasn’t already been made clear, ensure you let them know where you want to go.

2nd verse: Time to get creative

Not all industries are the same – working in a creative industry simply does not pay what a job on ‘Wall Street’ would. BUT that is no reason not to have this discussion. It means it’s helpful to focus on what lights you up.

Cash is king, most of the time, but there are other things that can form part of your remuneration package that could be a good value exchange for your worth. So, what could that look like?

It might be: working on a particular project, spending time with certain industry leaders in the form of a mentorship, training on a particular skill (like negotiating 😉), more flexible working – 4 days a week so you have time for your side hustle, or, or, or…

Step through your week thinking about what else you might like in exchange for your investment in this business and add it to your list of possible inclusions in your package.

Final verse: Draft your story

To build your confidence to step into a conversation about your worth, prepare by drafting your story. How will you share the information, so it lands, so they hear what you’re sharing, and are clear on what you’re asking for?

You’ll be sharing your story in context of why now makes sense*, because your role has evolved, you have more responsibilities, more staff, have contributed to [x,y, z], etc. And “this is why now feels like the right time to discuss my future in the organisation”.

*Note – the story should not be about, “the cost-of-living crisis is really hitting my family hard, so I need a pay rise”. Your lifestyle choices are not the businesses problem (harsh, but true) – but keeping a valued team member is.

The discussion will ebb and flow, but the crux of the conversation comes down to:

–    What do I want?

–    What don’t I want? And,

–    What might they want (or need)?

Share your story with the understanding that it’s a conversation. We’re in this together, so we need to understand where both of us are coming from. We need to discuss what’s possible and where we go from here. Share it knowing it may not happen today, but as long as it’s the beginning of the conversation. If it’s not, there may be a fork in the road ahead.

Now it’s over to you.

Embrace what’s possible and take the steps to prepare for a reasonable conversation about your worth.

May the negotiations begin! Good luck!

Reach out to Sam here:

This blog was initially published in Women in Music in July 2023.

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Negotiator Strengths Self-Assessment

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It’s time to identify where your negotiator strengths lie, and to discover where you should focus your energy to improve your business negotiation capabilities.

This self-assessment is about the negotiator you are today, not the one you want to be, so as you work your way through each statement, sit in it, take your time to reflect on your typical response and give it a true assessment rating. It may be challenging but be honest.

Assessment Scale

Read through each question then think about how much the behaviour or situation sounds like you.

Consider if this sounds: least like you; a bit like you; or like you most of the time – in most situations around and at the deals table.

Take your time, but don’t over think it.

Below each question select how you score it on this scale:


1 = Least2 = A Bit3 = Mostly