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Mika Brzezinski: The biggest mistake women make at the negotiating table

If women want to kill it the salary negotiation table, they have to learn to stop apologizing, says Mika Brzezinski.

Beginning in April, the MSNBC host and author of the bestselling book, “Knowing Your Value,” will launch a five-city conference tour aimed at coaching women to thrive in their careers.

The one-day conference, which kicks off in Philadelphia, will feature Brzezinski with cameos by the Today Show’s Hoda Kotb and Vogue contributing editor Andre Leon Talley. At each event, Brzezinski and a rotating roster of experts will offer strategies on how to overcome common workplace roadblocks. Their primary focus: mastering the negotiating table.

“As women, we sometimes apologize for everything,” says Brzezinski. “And it’s the most self-destructive, undermining trait we can bring to the negotiating table. It costs us in dollars and cents.”

Negotiating was a skill Brzezinski said it took her decades to learn, even as she worked her way up through the ranks in broadcast news to co-anchor "Morning Joe," where she has been since 2007. The show sandwiched her between two male co-hosts, Joe Scarborough and Willie Geist.

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It wasn’t until she overheard Scarborough having a heated discussion over his contract and compensation that she realized she had been underselling herself for years.

“When you’re negotiating, it’s war. It’s not a chat fest over drinks."

“I was told that if I went in for a raise people wouldn’t like me and I’d get a bad reputation,” she says. “Then I would watch [Joe] screaming at the top of his lungs on the phone and he just said screw them, we are just negotiating.”

Brzezinski admits she hasn’t exactly adopted Scarborough’s high-octane strategy, but she did eventually stop worrying about what the person on the opposite side of the table would think of her for asking for more.

If that confidence doesn’t come naturally, a little bit of research can help. Knowing what other people are paid for in your line of work and coming prepared with that knowledge in salary negotiations can help. A turning point for Brzezinski was when she learned she was being paid far less than her co-anchors. It can be an awkward discussion to have with people you work with, but everyone should do what they can to figure out what others on their level are being paid, she says.

“When you’re negotiating, it’s war, it’s not a chat fest over drinks,” she says. “Don’t worry about being friends.”

Find more information on the Know Your Value tour here.

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How to undo 5 common career mistakes

What do you do when your coworker earns more than you?

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