Don’t Quit, Negotiate

negotiateBy Holly A. Bell

I was in project avoidance mode at work when I started poking around the Wall Street Journal online. I came across an article entitled, “Quit: Do It Now” by Heidi Grant Halvorson, a social psychologist. I jumped a bit and wondered, “Do I have to?” I really don’t want to work on this project, but do I have to quit? What did she know that I didn’t?

The article suggests quitting your job if it makes you feel overworked or overextended and advocates doing so in a Nike “Just Do It” style. I’m afraid if I did that I’d have short periods of work followed by long periods of unemployment. One problem with jobs is that they are attached to lives and between the two–periods of stress and overwork are inevitable. I’m not sure quitting my job would help. It might, however, give me a whole new set of stressors to overwhelm me.

There was a little more to the article, but at the risk of offending my entire gender, I have to say the thing that bothered me most about the article was the tone. It was… well… remarkably female. Before anyone gets too excited, this is not going to be a treatise on all the things that might or might not possibly be wrong with women, so don’t start. After all we should be loved, not understood. My issue is that the feminine tone of the article seemed to play right into many of the theories of why there are inequities for women in the workplace. Not to mention a few stereotypes.

For example, one theory regarding why pay inequities exist in the workplace is that men are willing to negotiate their salaries and women are not. The same theory applies here. If the workload at my job is too great, first I complain to anyone who will listen and then I try to negotiate a change with the one person who can do something about it, my boss. Yes, workloads, like salaries, are negotiable. While men will negotiate workloads, women are much less likely to. After all, we are excellent at multi-tasking and get very attached and committed to the projects we are working on. I get it. I still mourn the loss of committees and projects I’ve had to give up in the interest of my sanity.

Get Ready to Negotiate

So ladies (and gentlemen), if you’re feeling overwhelmed at work take an inventory of everything you’re doing, decide what you need to give up and how the work might be redistributed, and then take it to your boss. Remember, bosses like solutions, not problems and they really do want you to be happy and productive. If this doesn’t work, find a new job and then quit. Deciding to leave a job is a process, not an impulse.

Plus, if you decide to leave, you’ll be ready to negotiate your next salary.

As my project is not going anywhere right now, it’s time for a little overtime. I’ll be sure to let someone know if I need to negotiate some help.

Photo courtesy of Ambro

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