You’ve been through a successful job hunt and you received an offer. Congratulations! Although it’s not perfect, you tell yourself that you should be content with it. Voicing your dissatisfaction makes you—and most job seekers—feel uneasy. Also, you’re afraid that asking for more, in terms of salary, flexibility, or benefits, will make you look difficult, get you off to a bad start, and may even lead the hiring manager to retract their offer. But finding the courage to negotiate for what you want is key to happiness on the job. Here are 6 tips to help you face negotiations with more ease.
Before the negotiation, whether it is carried out via email or in person, you should:
1. Think positive and assume you’ll get what you’re asking for. This attitude helps you lower fear, which, in turn, makes you less emotional. Rationality and objectivity are key when it comes to formulating your request.
2. Find persuasive and honest justifications. Make sure to prepare clear points in support of your request. For instance, if you’re negotiating salary, first make sure your request is reasonable based on your experience and the market value of the prospective position. Second, offer strong motivations as to why you deserve a higher salary based on, say, the responsibilities you’re asked to undertake or your skills.
3. If you’re negotiating in person or in videoconference, practice your “pitch” just as you would practice before any presentation or a performance. Remember: you’re trying to persuade someone, so you’d want to come across convincing and prepared. The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll get; fear will then naturally dissipate. Practice also by putting yourself in the employer’s shoes, that is, try to anticipate counterarguments and objections they may raise, and address them.
During the negotiation:
4. Be courteous and poised. Not only is it less tiring to be nice to others, but it also gets you farther in a negotiation. The same goes for composure: when you’re in control of your emotions, you speak (or write) calmly and you are heard. So, from the outset, set and keep a courteous tone, acknowledging the generosity of the original offer before making your request. If you feel emotions are taking over, pause and recollect. The last thing you want is to get carried away, jeopardize the negotiation, and end up empty-handed.
5. If the negotiation involves an actual conversation, listen actively. You may think that, when negotiating, you should do most of the talking. While you should certainly be prepared to talk, once you’ve presented your request clearly and cogently, let the employer elaborate. You just listen. Doing so will give you composure and—most importantly—time to think about the best way to respond to possible objections or refusals. Active listening is key when negotiating: it increases your understanding of others thus making the conversation more effective.
6. Be a win-win strategy advocate. Try to present your request as having benefits not only for you, but also for the employer. For instance, if you’re asking for a hybrid schedule, mention some advantages your employer can gain from it, for instance, you being available to work early in the morning because you won't be commuting. Facilitating an agreement that benefits both parties will make the negotiation more collaborative and less combative. Remember, however, that sometimes one party might have more leverage than the other, and the agreement reached may not have the two parties meet right in the middle. You may not get all you hoped for, but if you don’t ask, you won’t even get even the slightest part of it!