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In Order to Negotiate Better, I Had to Unlearn 'L.A. Law' Unlike on TV, getting what you want is all about clear and effective communication.

By Carol Sankar

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Thomas Barwick | Getty Images

Once upon a time, I was conditioned to believe that negotiating was a bitter conversation between two or more parties over a valuable possession. I learned this lesson after watching countless hours of the hit '80s drama, L.A. Law, where everyone appeared to be negotiating over everything with such emotion and anger.

When I entered into the workplace, I quickly learned the difference between my expectation and the reality of self-advocacy. After accepting a job in a mid-sized boutique law firm in New York City, while grossly underpaid, I thought that if I worked hard for the first year, "someone" would notice my contribution to the firm and increase my salary  —  and I was wrong. Essentially, I was afraid of commencing a difficult conversation, which I thought would be contentious, so I continued to suffer under the mounting pressure of last hired, least paid and most qualified.

As the pressure mounted, it finally came to an abrupt boil when I was asked to work on weekends without pay as a "team effort" to get ready for a trial. In an impulse move, upon request, I quickly said no. When I was asked "… and why not?" It was the foundation I needed to take a breath and start the difficult conversation about my value, which I was avoiding since the beginning of my tenure.

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