I didn’t read Lean In. Like most of America, I felt I didn’t have to because it was all anybody talked about for weeks. Everywhere I looked online, on the radio, on television, people were giving me the synopsis and reading the juiciest bits.
What I gleaned from not reading Lean In is that women are too afraid to ask for what they want. I’m not sure I want to be totally blamed for the gender disparity in wages, but I definitely felt like I was going to have a heart attack when I asked for a raise the first time, and I had to really psych myself up to ask for relocation on my first real job. The reluctance to ask for what you want feels a lot like trying to date by The Rules. What if my request for a raise makes me look too needy? Shouldn’t I be acting like I have my own busy life, and I don’t care one bit whether they want to relocate me this Saturday or not? Besides, what if we don’t get to that part of the negotiation before my 4 minute phone call timer goes off?
Not reading Lean In changed my life. I started trying to live by the facebook creed, “What would I do if I weren’t afraid” although I changed it to, “What would I do if I didn’t care what this dude thinks of me?”
Answer: I’d ask for a discount. We have had a lot of expenses lately between the handyman, the movers, the realtors, the roofers, etc. And I have asked every single one for a discount. The main hurdle was figuring out how to broach the subject. I lacked the vocabulary. I didn’t want to say, “Hey, can I pay you less?” or start with, “You know, I’ve been not reading this book called Lean In….” I didn’t want to whine about my financial situation. I didn’t want to flirt. Or rather, flirting was unrealistic as my hair can hold itself into a bun unaided by anything but sweat these days. According to Fluffy, I “smell like beef.” And just ask Jenni MacArthur who let me use her internet yesterday how well I’ve been dressing for success.
I settled on “That seems high.” It works for everything. Sometimes I’ve had to argue about going over estimates or ask to see receipts and try to get them to take off the upcharge on materials. No matter the situation, I have been given a discount. Wednesday, the movers gave me a 6% discount on the spot when I told them their invoice seemed high. Then Thursday morning, the general manager of the company called to tell me he was refunding me yet another 6% off my invoice and giving me a 10% discount on all further moves. Yes, I told them we were absolutely moving again in a year. I also have been reviewing service providers on Angie’s List almost since it first came on the scene. I may have mentioned that.
Do I feel like haggling over service prices is cheating? Am I worried, “That seems high” is dishonest, immoral, or at least unseemly in some way? Of course! I’m a woman, a neurotic and a religious zealot. If I don’t floss, I feel like I’m cheating. But after not reading Lean In, I just tell myself to get over it and ask for what I want. So what if Marshall Roofing doesn’t want to marry me because I’m too needy? There are many other roofers in the sea. They should be so lucky to rip up shingles like this.
In other news, I should locate the camera because we’re down to featured images like this: