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Pushback: How Smart Women Ask--and Stand Up--for What They Want Hardcover – April 10, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (April 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118104900
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118104903
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #168,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Q & A with Selena Rezvani, author of Pushback

Selena Rezvani
Why a book on negotiating--for women?
As a writer, there are books you want to write and then books you need to write. Pushback certainly falls into the latter category. As a group, we as women negotiate four times less often than our male counterparts, resulting in getting less of what we want and need: financial security, career advancement, even control over our lifestyles. In my roles as a workplace consultant, a women's leadership columnist, and a recovering "negotiation avoider" myself, I've witnessed countless women continue to sidestep negotiating, choosing instead to live with an inconvenient or less than optimal situation. This matters because research shows that women are happiest between the ages of 18 to 25 and after age 50--that is when, for many, converging life demands like kids and work are less pronounced. Being fulfilled and happy during our most productive time in our professional lives often require us to invent new, better terms and to get "yes" decisions from others. In Pushback, I argue that if women negotiate for better conditions, they will see leaps in their confidence, happiness, and life circumstances.

You interviewed 20 female executives as the basis for your research. What about these interviews surprised you?
What surprised me most was the participants' response when I asked them to quantify the impact of pushing back. I asked interviewees, "Assuming a woman's career success equals 100 percent, what percentage is accounted for by her effectiveness in negotiating and pushing back?" Averaging the twenty responses I heard, the answer was 60 percent; that's to say that 60 percent of a woman's career success hinges on her pushback skills--holding her own, advocating her needs, and negotiating. Although technical skills, academic or business pedigree, and people skills emerged as necessities for those who want to lead, command of your own voice and ability to advocate, according to successful women executives, ranked higher. I didn’t expect the response to be quite that affirmative.

Pushback could be interpreted as a combative--even negative--term. How do you define it?
The word is definitely more commonly used to mean resistance, but I am using it rather more broadly--and more positively. In the context of this book and the interviews I conducted, pushback represents the group of skills that allow us to take a stand, be firm, or advocate on our own behalf. It also encompasses our adeptness at advancing a cause, making a request, and persuading others of the merits of our view. We can use it to go after what we want, and we can use it to defend what is ours and what we need.

You say that, financially speaking, women's propensity to avoid negotiating "devastates their potential." What are the effects you've observed?
When we don't negotiate our salaries, we leave thousands, even millions, of dollars on the table unclaimed. This not only affects us negatively right now, but drastically dwarfs the retirement savings we work so hard to accumulate. Nationally, women do not yet earn comparable wages to men--and then add to that that we are more likely to leave the paid workforce to manage caretaking responsibilities. With nearly half of all marriages ending in divorce, our own share of earnings becomes even more of an important lifeline. Women may also have a tendency to let males take care of bills and savings and yet we live longer than men, which means in the end, we are the ones literally left holding the purse. When we're not the chief negotiator of our own finances and lives, our economic stability and vitality is greatly endangered.

In a recession, is it still possible to negotiate on the job?
Workplace negotiations, even today, represent some of the most lush and productive places for negotiating, not to mention the most materially significant. I'm not just referring to salary requests, but negotiations about flexible arrangements, maternity leave plans, part-time work schedules--even which work assignments we take on or lead. Many companies are perfectly willing to make case-by-case determinations about money, roles, or career paths and there's less of a trend today requiring that all employees conform to one strict hierarchy or career ladder. As I teach readers in Pushback, it's up to each of us to do our homework, make an irrefutable case, and then persuade our counterpart so that it's very hard for them to say "no."

Do the youngest working women--Gen Y'ers--require negotiation skills?
Yes, and perhaps even more so than older generations. When queried, Gen Y women report that, (1) their most closely held value is independence and that, (2) their primary career goal is entrepreneurship. This suggests that those young women who do join the traditional workforce will expect control over how and what they do. What's more, they're looking for hybrid career opportunities--ones that allow them to cross-pollinate their work and outside interests and personal and professional lives. The skills of negotiating and self advocacy will therefore be career necessities in a work world that's still fairly rigid, where young women want choice and diversity in their work.

Do you think there’s a formula for learning to negotiate well?
I do. In Pushback, I present a complete process for negotiation--not just as a one-time transaction, but as an everyday skill. The system I've developed over the last several years teaches women four critical, repeatable steps for negotiating with finesse. It works incredibly well. Women who learn and practice these negotiation tactics benefit financially, find solutions and opportunities where there were previously none, and often get more of what they wanted than they originally asked for. One woman I heard from informed me that after negotiating her role at a dead-end job, her employer asked her to write her dream description, noting that they'd bend over backward to keep her. These kinds of stories abound when women prepare for a request and make the "ask." By setting our sights high, we can challenge the syndrome that leaves so many people ailing from uncontested, low expectations.


“[Pushback] is a powerful account, highly recommended for any business or women's issues holding.”
—Midwest Book Review

“Pushback is a must-read for women in or seeking to enter the workforce. Selena Rezvani shows that you can use your assets as a woman and ask for what you want—whether a promotion, a new challenge, or a raise.”
—Katharine Weymouth, CEO, The Washington Post

“Leveraging sophisticated strategy and pragmatic action, Selena Rezvani equips women with the tools to negotiate for more than money. Better work assignments, job flexibility, and even the ability to hold your own in a debate await in Pushback—a required text for all professional women.”
—Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Ph.D., president, Center for Work-Life Policy

Pushback is a brilliantly written book. Chock-full of bad habit breakers, Pushback teaches women how to become resilient negotiators. If women take Selena's advice to heart, I know they will be thrilled with the outcome. The lessons in Pushback will allow every woman's career to leap forward!”
—Janet Hanson, founder and CEO, 85 Broads

“Power is about 20 percent conferred and 80 percent taken. Good things don't come to those who wait; they come to those who ask, negotiate, and push. For women—or men—to get what they deserve, they must get over the platitudes and attitudes that hold them back. Reading and implementing the wisdom of Pushback is a great way to start.”
—Jeffrey Pfeffer, professor, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University; author, Power: Why Some People Have It—and Others Don't

“‘Can you do any better?’ Not only is this a key question during a negotiation, it's one that women first need to ask themselves. Through in-depth research and candid interviews with top female executives, Pushback delves into why many women view negotiation as intimidating and empowers them with the roadmap they need to find success—and the money, status, and esteem that come with it—by turning any negotiation into ‘a conversation that ends in agreement.’”
—Jim Hopkinson, author, Salary Tutor: Learn the Salary Negotiation Secrets No One Ever Taught You

Pushback performs the service of arming women with the single most compelling career advancement strategy at their disposal: negotiating skills. Rezvani's day-to-day bargaining tactics are simple to apply, yet intensely effective and stunningly powerful.”
—Linda C. Babcock, Ph.D., James Mellon Walton Professor of Economics, Carnegie Mellon University; coauthor,Women Don't Ask

“Any woman who has ever swallowed hard and accepted less than she should at work will benefit from this book. Selena provides a template for negotiating gracefully and powerfully for what you want, need, and deserve.”
—Sally Helgesen, author, The Female Vision and The Female Advantage

“You must read Selena's new book, Pushback. In an age of intellectual capital where value added is so often subjective, it is absolutely vital for women leaders to highlight their contributions and ask for what they want, and this dynamite book will teach you how to find your own voice and style for effectively self-advocating.”
—Manisha Thakor, coauthor, On My Own Two Feet: A Modern Girl's Guide to Personal Finance

Pushback is a compelling playbook for taking charge. Selena Rezvani nails the personal tools—from negotiating persuasively to thinking strategically—for the leadership of which all managers are capable and on which all firms depend.”
—Michael Useem, professor of management, director of the Leadership Center, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

More About the Author

Selena Rezvani's goal is to propel more women into the top echelons of businesses -- an objective she achieves through her writing, consulting, and speaking engagements. She is the co-owner of Women's Roadmap, a consulting firm that elevates women into leadership through assessment, the design of gender-inclusive policies, and coaching. Outside of her consulting and coaching work, Selena promotes her message through training programs, teaching some of the brightest minds in business at Harvard, SAP, Princeton, Comcast, UBS, Duke, Johnson & Johnson, and many others.

She has been quoted, interviewed, and profiled by CareerBuilder, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, ABC, and NBC. She is a regular commentator on NPR's syndicated 51 Percent: The Women's Perspective and writes columns on women and leadership for the Washington Post and Forbes. She is the author of the acclaimed career guidebooks PUSHBACK: How Smart Women Ask--and Stand Up--for What They Want (Jossey-Bass, 2012) and The Next Generation of Women Leaders: What You Need to Lead but Won't Learn in Business School (Praeger, 2009).

Selena received her bachelor of science and master of social work degrees from New York University, and has an MBA from Johns Hopkins University, where she was the recipient of the Edward Stegman Award for academic excellence. She lives near Philadelphia. For more information, visit: www.SelenaRezvani.com.

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Customer Reviews

It should be a 'must read' for women in college.
Inspired Reader
And Selena Rezvani has a smart, practical voice where she is able to take the advice of many seasoned leaders and use specific examples from real life work situations.
The power to ASK: great women leaders don't hesitate to "ask" what they want and do everything to get it.
Navi Radjou, coauthor "Jugaad Innovation"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Inspired Reader on May 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
If every woman in the workforce read "Pushback" I think we could get a lot closer to closing the gender gap in pay. It should be a 'must read' for women in college.

I have worked as a consultant in corporate America for two decades, with hundreds of companies and numerous Fortune 500 clients. I have seen first hand how women struggle not only with equity in pay, but all of the contributing issues: getting the choice assignments, getting the sponsors who push for your opportunities, taking risks, balancing homelife, and even changing companies to get better opportunities. Every woman who reads Pushback and truly embraces the four-step process for negotiating as a way of life will find that her career (and life) is affected in hundreds of ways that will lift her onto a new trajectory of greater success, greater impact, and greater satisfaction.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By C. J. Smith on June 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've really enjoyed reading this book - odd for a business book I know! The author provides real examples and engaging discussions about the situations that we face and how to make sure we are getting what we want in negotiations.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A lot of it I've heard through other means or read about, but it's presented in a very fluid and fast paced read. I do truly feel more confident in my ability to get what I want and more importantly what I need.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen P McDonald on April 17, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
After reading several books on this topic, this was the first that provided real recommendations on how to proceed during a negotiation. These included self-reflection exercises and work sheets to prepare for negotiation, the the importance of follow-up post-negotiation. A "must read" for the young professional.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. Rosenbluth on April 15, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Selena offers a thoughtful approach to negotiating - not only salary, but work assignments, deals at work etc. I appreciate that she gears this book to women, and has us think about the psychological component of negotiating that other books leave out. I saw myself in this book, and plan to use the tools in this book for my next negotiation. I like that she not only weaves in stories from her own experiences in the corporate world, but she interviews many high level women who talk about their experiences with negotiation. Selena did a webinar on negotiating for my association of female engineers, and her webinar was incredibly popular and very well-received. This is a book that all women in the business world should read because it is important that women learn to negotiate - not only salaries, but assignments at work, deals etc. Most female friends of mine hate to negotiate, and after reading this book, I wouldn't say I am thrilled to negotiate but I am not as afraid of it as before I read the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Brandi Davis on April 3, 2014
Format: MP3 CD
This book will be one that I revisit over and over again. The specific scenarios and words to use during a negation will be invaluable. The idea that negotiations are not just about winning, but creating relationships and win-win situations is a more comfortable way for me to look at the process, making negotiating an easier idea to get behind. This fast paced and fun read made me feel empowered to ask for what I want and the skills to do it productively. Thanks so much.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ida Abbott on March 18, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Pushback is an excellent resource for women who want to negotiate more effectively. Rezvani explains the internal and external factors that make it hard for women to advocate and negotiate for themselves and more importantly, offers practical guidance on how to conquer those factors. Instead of a rigid framework, she provides questions, suggestions and tools that every reader can adapt to suit her own personality and style. She enables women both to push back against the obstacles and to push forward toward what they want.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By P. B. Evans on September 8, 2014
Format: Hardcover
A friend recently gave me a copy of “Pushback: How Smart Women Ask—and Stand Up—for What They Want.” Reading it, I was reminded of a comment from my daughter's soccer trainer: “The difference between boys and girls is that boys take shots they have no chance of hitting and girls who have a good chance of scoring pass the ball to a teammate.” While the trainer was talking about young athletes, he could have easily been talking about women in general, be it in or outside the workplace. Pushback addresses the times when women, for a variety of reasons, don't take the shot in front of them. Pushback offers strategies for finessing the art of the deal, whether it is to negotiate one's own salary, or getting to yes and just saying no, and all the uncomfortable feelings that come with this uncharted territory.
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