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Five Principles of Empowerment Self Defense for Everybody and Every Body by Linda Štucbartová

The concept of Empowerment Self Defense does not focus only on physical defense but also offers tools to live a quality life. 

Discrimination in its various forms is not part of that. Women in the EU are still paid less than men. The EU average is 13%, but there are large differences between countries.

Let's see how the Think - Yell - Run - Fight and Tell principles can help us specifically if we believe we have been the target of pay discrimination. How do we ask for a salary rise and how do we approach the whole issue of inequality in the workplace strategically? 

The Think principle is about intuition, but it's also about strategy and information. According to studies by Linda Babcock from Harvard in 2003, women do not start to negotiate. Companies don't discriminate intentionally. Women simply don't ask for more pay. Women often do not want to negotiate because they don't always know how much to ask for. According to the study, only 7% of women engage in negotiations compared to 57% of men. Yet when women do get involved, they are just as successful as men in negotiating. We see that strategy and preparation are essential. We don't want to encourage anyone to violate internal regulations, but there are many sources to find out salary ranges for specific positions. 

Another barrier to negotiating is the assumption that ‘if I don't ask for money, they won't be as tough on me at work, and I won't be under as much pressure. And I won't seem greedy...And I'll have more time for my family’. These are false assumptions which are not based on the truth, and especially not related to salary negotiations.

Ladies, it takes some preparation but it's worth it! In the aggregate of lost profits you may have to work a decade longer to catch up with a colleague who negotiated more at the beginning. 

The second principle of Empowerment Self Defense is Yell. Hopefully you can avoid shouting in salary negotiations, but you will need a voice as well as the conviction to stand up for yourself. We women can often fight like lionesses for others, but not for ourselves. Therefore, try to imagine that you are negotiating for your family, your partners or your do not want them to end up less rewarded because you are not paid equally.

Set boundaries. Learn to communicate your demands and needs. Our recommended communication formulation is based on stating the observation:

e.g. ‘I feel I am not adequately valued in my position’, followed by the emotion –’, 

‘I feel I am not respected enough’ and end with the request: 

‘Can we talk about this issue?’ You already have the preparation. You have the facts, you have the arguments, you know what you can offer. And you also know what you want to achieve plus where the boundaries are that you won't go beyond. You might get some interesting feedback. Maybe your supervisor will be surprised. And maybe it won't go so fast...But the feeling of standing up for yourself is worth it.

Run is the third principle of Empowerment Self Defense. Again, it's not always running away as in the sense of Usain Bolt, but there is a possible parallel to de-escalation, pausing, buying time for more information or perhaps calming emotions. If the situation in a negotiation escalates and there is an emotional reaction usually accompanied by shouting from one of the parties involved, it is better not to proceed. Take a break. The situation needs to be calmed down. Everyone welcomes a break in difficult negotiations. And if you want an example of a successful negotiation, think of Julia Roberts in ‘Erin Brockovich’. 

Leaving a toxic relationship or toxic work environment is an option. If you feel like you are not valued in your company, feel undervalued or unappreciated and there is nothing you can do about it, go elsewhere. 

Fight, which comes fourth in the Empowerment Self-Defense concept, will be left out this time. Physical defense should only be used when health or life is at stake.

Instead, we will focus on the fifth principle, which is Tell. Sharing is not only about sharing successes, learning from failures, being able to ask for help, but also being able to have a circle of people around you who you can rely on. A community that moves you forward. Those who understand you, can listen, not judge, or condemn. Build these relationships because you can have authentic conversations with true friends. You will get feedback. And often valuable information that can help you in future negotiations. We women share a lot of very intimate information together, not always the essential information. And let's invite men into the fight for a level playing field. Because equal pay benefits everyone.

Good luck, not just in negotiations, but also don’t be afraid to stand up for yourselves.

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