How to Negotiate Like Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner
Courtesy of Cherry Bombe
Hot off the heels of Jennifer Lawrence’s powerful essay about the lack of wage equality in Hollywood, Lenny Letter co-founders Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner sat down with Daniel Roth for a LinkedIn Influencer Interview. The theme: how to negotiate. Dunham and Konner focus on the issue of asking for a raise from the perspective of an employee and an employer. Read on to learn their top tips for getting what you want.
Dunham and Konner are honest about their intention to build a strong, financially solvent media company. “We’d be lying if we said we didn’t want to have a financially solvent company, and be comfortable, and be able to have dinner when you want, and give to charity when you want. I think that’s an ambition and a desire that women have historically repressed but we’re okay saying that. We’re really trying to build something here.” So the bottom line is to be unapologetically ambitious all of the time.
“If we’re working with someone that we’re close to, if we’re collaborating with another woman and we decide to be a little bit generous in a negotiation, it’s not because we’re weak and afraid,” says Dunham. “It’s because that comes back to you in another way. Money is one of the ways that you let people know you appreciate them.” Konner adds, “We’ve never regretted giving someone too much.” If you're in the position to give someone a higher salary or a raise and you believe their work is great and your professional relationship is important to you, do it. You won't regret making people feel proud of their contribution and valued.
At the beginning of her career, Dunham admits to having a problem with being too nice. “My people-pleasing instincts really got in the way,” she says. Konner helped her realize that while you want to make people, you also have to protect yourself so that you can be happy. “You want to go into a job in the strongest position you can and that’s not resenting anyone.” But, Dunham adds, “Just because you know what you’re worth doesn’t mean it’s always easy to ask for it.”
Dunham looks to Taylor Swift as an example of how to know your worth and how to feel comfortable defending it. Swift caused Apple to change their artist policy by boycotting Apple music because of its three-month free trial. “I think something that’s amazing is how comfortable these young people—these young women—are getting with expressing their needs and expressing their perspective and not feeling they have to toe the line and feeling like they can say I’m worth something and this is what it is,” says Dunham.
“I think a great negotiator is an aggressive negotiator, and we’re aggressive negotiators, so I’m not worried about someone coming at us,” says Jenni Konner. When it comes to negotiation, understand that it's business—not personal. Being aggressive doesn't mean you are pushy or demanding, it means you believe in yourself.
Have you negotiated for your salary or a raise? What worked and what didn’t? Share with us in the comments.