Categorized | Salary

10 Rules for Smart Negotiators

Posted on 19 May 2009

Get tough and get what you deserve.

In today’s tough economy, you have to be a strong negotiator to get what you want. Don’t shy away from asking your boss for that raise, especially if you’ve proven your worth to the company. Bargain for that plum assignment if you can (and will) get the job done. Keep these ten rules in mind in order to negotiate effectively.

1. Know What You Want

A lot of employees will go into a negotiation without a game plan. If you don’t know what you want, your bargaining efforts will be futile. Also, know what you will give up in order to get what you want, says Ed Brodow, a professional speaker and negotiation expert.

2. Know What They Want

Try to figure out what makes the other person tick. For example, does he or she appreciate meeting tight deadlines? Is risk-taking a valuable attribute in their eyes? If you know the goals your boss sets for your job and how he or she will measure your success, then you have an identifiable goal. According to Jeff Blackman, an international speaker, author, and business growth specialist, you should always be ready to discuss your accomplishments in detail.

You have to be willing to say, ‘If I can’t get what I want, I am going somewhere else.’

3. Don’t Fixate on Money

Instead, focus on how you can help the other person do his or her job better. Your boss does not want to hear, “I need $50,000 because I have five kids and three of them are in college,” Brodow says. An employer only cares about your value to the company.

4. Negotiate With a Sense of Power

“View your contribution to someone’s success as power,” Blackman advises. “The power principle is that you bring great value to whomever you are negotiating with.” Understand how you have helped your employer make or save money. Once your boss acknowledges that you actually improve the bottom line, it’s more difficult for him or her to say, ‘We are not going to give you what you deserve.’ If people question their own contribution, they diminish their value.”

5. Be Confident

If you’re not confident, just fake it. So says Tom Wood, managing director of Watershed Associates, a Washington, DC-based consulting firm. If you don’t believe in what you are asking for, how will the other party? You have to believe in your own value and worth before someone else will.

6. Be Prepared

In general, people are poorly prepared for negotiations. If you just think about the questions that you might be asked, this will prevent you from being caught off-guard. It’s essential to look organized and stay calm. “Talk about your skills,” Wood says, “the responsibilities you’ve had in the past, industry experience, letters of recognition you’ve gotten from clients, successful projects, money saved, and revenue increases.”

7. Listen Closely

People tend to talk too much. Ideally, we should listen 70 percent of the time and talk 30 percent. Says Blackman: “People sometimes feel obligated to fill the silence. Spend more time listening than you do talking.”

8. Talk to the Decision-Makers

If you’re going to talk about a raise, you can’t do it casually, says Brodow. Put yourself in front of those who matter. Make it a formal appointment, not an idle chat.

9. Never Compromise Your Values

“You need a strong relationship [with the other person],” adds Blackman. “It should always be based on trust, honesty, and integrity,” If you can’t trust the motives of your boss, it may be time to seriously rethink your work situation.

10. Keep Your Options Open

People often think money is the only item that can be negotiated. If you’re a new employee, you might not be able to get the extra $1,000 you want, but you could get increased insurance benefits, dental coverage, or even a membership to local health clubs.

If it’s a first-time negotiation, you should always be prepared to walk away. “Let’s say you meet with a potential employer and you want $50,000, but they only offer $40,000. You have to be willing to say, ‘If I can’t get what I want, I am going somewhere else,’” Brodow says.

Last, but not least, try not to stress out. A negotiation session “should be nothing more than a dialogue that allows you to best understand the other party’s goals and expectations. At the same time, it allows them to comprehend your goals,” Blackman concludes.

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Jon Davidson says:

    Emily,
    I love this post. Some don’t realize that no matter how well things might appear to be going throughout an interview, if the wrong thing is said during the negotiation stage it is all over. Thanks, Jon

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