Asking for more at work is rarely an easy task. And for women, who often face unique challenges around voice and tone, entering a negotiation process can be nerve-wracking and scary, sometimes preventing us from asking for the pay we deserve.

“If I negotiate, I won't look collaborative. I won't be likable. I won't be starting this off on the right foot,” says negotiation trainer Alexandra Carter, of the doubts that often hinder women from requesting more. At the first-ever ChiefX conference, Carter, who is a Clinical Professor of Law and the Director of the Mediation Clinic at Columbia Law School, described her own journey of becoming an expert negotiator, starting with one of her first negotiating experiences.

After receiving a work offer that was on par with what she expected, Carter was initially inclined to accept, admitting that she thought it was okay to “accept good enough or fine” when it came to her career. But after talking to a senior woman in her field, she quickly realized that negotiating for more should never be off the table.

“When you teach someone how to value you, you are teaching them how to value all of us,” she says the woman told her. “So, if you're not going to go in there and do it for yourself, I want you to do it for the woman who's coming after you. Do it for the sisterhood.”

As the author of the bestselling book, “Ask for More,” Carter spoke to ChiefX attendees about the ways in which women leaders can push past bias to ask for what they want at work. And, with the help of voice and speech specialist Anne Marie Nest-Pinero, these experts also detail how voice plays a role in not just negotiating for what you want, but actually getting it.

Negotiate From Your Aspiration Value

Too often, leaders go into a negotiation thinking about the minimum number they are going to accept, or as Carter puts it, their “walk away number.” But, as someone who has worked as a negotiation trainer for Fortune 500 companies and the United Nations, Carter says this is a mistake.

Instead, she says leaders should go into the conversation thinking about their “biggest, baddest number,” and they should negotiate from a salary range that includes it. “What’s the number that would make you thrilled to show up and give 110% of your best?”

Once you decide on that number, justify it by communicating your value and asking open-ended questions.

“In tough situations, never ask a question that allows them to give you an easy ‘no,’” Carter says. For instance, instead of asking, “Can we bump my pay by 20%?” she says you should ask questions that propels the other person to tell you the “why” and the “how.” And one easy way to do that is to start your request with “tell me.”

“Tell me more about the scope of the role. Tell me about the KPIs. Tell me about the last person you hired who was a superstar and what made them that way,” she says. “Tell me are the words that compel somebody because guess what? It's actually not a question. It's a command. But it's read as a question so you're going to get the most information that's going to allow you to pitch big.”

Eliminate “I” Statements

According to Carter, using “I” in the negotiating process can easily make you sound insecure and junior, rather than like a leader who knows the larger impact of their value.

“We also run a risk, if we're facing some male fragility on the other side, that too much ‘I’ is going to get Bob a little upset. So we have to show that this works for Bob too,” Carter says. “There's a formula called the ‘I - We’ that is very effective for people of any gender to negotiate.”

The way it works, she says, is that instead of communicating how a pay bump or promotion will only benefit you, you have to explain how it will also benefit the company and those around you. For example, you can say, “Here's what I'm proposing and here's how we all benefit.” Or, “When we have an M.D. in this department, Bob, we're going to be able to advocate for everything we need to the executive committee, and I’m your woman.”

Understand the Impact of Your Voice

The inflection, tone, and rate of your voice, Nest-Pinero says, all impact how a question, comment, or request is received during negotiation. Unfortunately for women, power and authority have long been associated with the way that men’s voices sound. Speech patterns like upspeak and vocal fry garner more scrutiny because they’re associated with women. The workplace undoubtedly needs to embrace a fuller variety of sounds, but in the meantime, a few small tweaks can make a big impact for women at the bargaining table.

For example, Nest-Pinero says it’s important to end sentences with a downward inflection. An upward inflection often makes a sentence sound like a question instead of a declarative statement, which gives people an opportunity to challenge you.

Instead of saying, “This position is worth $300,000” with some hesitation at the end, Nest-Pinero says you should use a downward inflection that indicates you are definite and sure about your statement.

Similar to inflection, tone can also dictate how well a negotiation goes. A warm tone can be calming and disarming, while a playful tone is one that keeps the mood light, and a commanding tone is one that is definitive. When it comes to negotiating, Carter says that opening up with a warm inviting tone is nice, but it is not always the tone that should be kept throughout the conversation.

“Research shows that especially for [women], if our tone is warm throughout, then people may be inclined to offer us less or use more deception,” Carter says. That’s why, when it’s time for the conversation to switch to money, she says it’s often helpful to implement a more commanding tone to let the other person know you are serious.

In addition to inflection and tone, Carter and Nest-Pinero say the rate at which you speak also dictates how someone receives what you’re saying. Speaking too fast, they say, increases tension, indicates nerves, and makes it hard for those listening to keep up. On the other hand, talking too slow can come off as condescending and cause your audience to lose interest. To strike a healthy balance, Carter and Nest-Pinero say it’s best to have varying rates throughout your conversation, slowing down only on the important points that you want to emphasize.

While asking for more can be intimidating, Carter encourages women to always counter their first offer even if they think it’s a good one. “By negotiating, we normalize what it means for a woman to go out and boldly claim her worth. And when we do that, we make it easier for those who are coming after us,” she says.