The Lost Art of Negotiation
Just what is negotiation?
Is it asking someone for what you want, with the hopes they give it to you? Or, perhaps, it’s sharing your demands and seeing how people react to it?
Many people think they know what it is, and by extension, believe they are good at it. But are they?
Effective negotiation is one of the most important skills to have. While many embark on discussions involving the art of negotiation with confidence to ask for all they wish, few are able to successfully do
in job offer situations, we often talk about negotiation in terms of salary. Quite simply, candidates and their prospective employers have ideas about what an appropriate salary is but the two sides are typically not a match on this number in the beginning.
Many candidates ask me what they should do these situations. Should they ask for their ideal number, or even, higher than what they want? Or, perhaps, should they just be happy to have an offer and keep their mouths shut?
While not a self-proclaimed expert in this arena, I have learned quite a bit of helpful tips over the years from my profession. I have acted on behalf of others to negotiate salaries but also have respected when candidates give it a go directly with a potential employers. I have learned, however, three things that have served well in negotiations that many candidates overlook:
1. Ask for your optimal salary… and make sure that it is based not on misinformed ideals.
People ask me if they should ask for their ideal salary on the
‘high’ end of the scale. I say, absolutely. But before all of this, I ask them
what that number is, and more importantly, how did they arrive at it? Generally speaking, people should always ask
more for what they’d minimally be satisfied with when talking about the offer.
However, if you ask for a salary that is much, much higher than market averages,
or that you can’t quite justify with reasonable data points, you should
reconsider. I had a candidate in the past year tell me he asked for a salary
that was $15,000 more than what I had recommended he propose a potential
employer because he just felt like he deserved every penny of it. You want to base your 'ask’ on trusted,
validated sources – not that it might fill a hole within your ego. Such
sources might include internet research from social sites like Glassdoor,
reaching out to friends who work or have interviewed at the company, or
recruiters who work with such companies & industries often.
2.Make it short and sweet. That means, quite frankly, to shut up.
Many candidates prepare an elaborate statement of what their preferred offer should be, and list all the reasons behind it. They even continue, within the same breath, to volunteer that they’re flexible on salary, implying they will take something lower than what they are asking.
Getting a case of verbal diarrhea is something most people need to get over quickly. To be effective in the negotiation process, ask confidently what you want and do it succinctly. Take a breath, pause, and enjoy the silence. Wait for what the other side will say. A former boss of mine told me that silence is something that adds to your favor when negotiating salaries – don’t muck it up by sharing too much information about your position. While it might be true that you will take the salary that the company offered to you right out of the gate, they don’t need to know that right away. If you can share solid reasons why you are looking for more, state why and keep it focused on that point.
3.Respect that it takes two to tango.
advice goes with the first point I discussed. Yes, generally, asking for more is
a good thing. However, you should know
your potential company well enough to decide if your request will be taken
favorably or if it will tick them off.
If you don’t know the answer to that, talk it through with a trusted
person in your circle (spouse, friend, co-worker, or hey, your recruiter!) to
get a balanced opinion on the matter.
Have a favorite negotiation tip? Share your thoughts now.