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Negotiation tips: 6 ways to get what you want at work

Whether you are seeking a salary increase, new office, or flexible schedule, there are numerous strategies to keep in mind during the negotiation process.


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Negotiating raises, promotions, and other workplace perks can be stressful, but opportunity, as the adage goes, favors the bold. From creative twists on virtual presentations to mastering the power of the pause, here are six tips to help employees master the negotiation process and get what they want at work.

“Some employees think that if they do a good job, the company will recognize their efforts with raises and promotions. If you are in this environment, great! In other companies, you must be proactive to get what you want,” said George Siedel, a professor of business administration emeritus and professor of business law emeritus at the University of Michigan, who also teaches negotiation courses on Coursera.

Crowdsource and bring evidence

For decades, the idea of fellow employees discussing their salaries with coworkers was viewed as somewhat taboo. However, this stance has faded in recent years. Crowdsourcing can be a valuable tool in a host of work scenarios; especially when preparing to negotiate a potential raise.

In this situation, Siedel suggested that employees determine the salaries of other employees at the company in similar roles. This approach could help employees determine a value floor and ceiling before setting their asking price. Simply put, where do your output and standing fit among top-performers at the company and how much do they make?

Siedel also suggested that employees mention positive feedback from previous reviews or make note of past successful projects. An evidence-based approach could be a powerful negotiation strategy.

Framing matters

Whether you’re delivering a virtual presentation or negotiating a raise, it’s always important to keep the audience in mind. When preparing for the negotiation or delivering the pitch, attempt to sell the objective as a win for both parties.

“Try to frame your interests in terms of company interests. For example, if you want to ask your boss for a flexible time schedule, talk about how this will benefit the company,” said Siedel via email.

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Take initiative

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many teams are operating remotely. Virtual meetings and messenger services have replaced in-person communication for many organizations in recent months. While these solutions may enable remote collaboration, these elements add a wrinkle to the traditional negotiation process.

Broaching the question with a manager may be an awkward undertaking via Slack, but a proactive approach could be the difference between getting what one wants in the interim or waiting around until the next review cycle.

“Regardless of whether your virtual working conditions are permanent or a temporary side effect of the pandemic, your supervisor can’t read your mind. With all the unknowns managers are dealing with right now, it’s important for them to know how their team is doing and how they can best support each member,” said Sharon Belden Castonguay, the executive director of the Gordon Career Center at Wesleyan University, who also teaches career decision courses on Coursera.

Don’t forget the pleasantries

A virtual meeting requires a different approach and planning compared to traditional face-to-face communication. During a standard in-person chat, people are able to take in myriad information from the other person’s body language. On video calls, this lack of communicative richness increases the risk of indeterminacy. Zoom fatigue can complicate matters, but Castonguay emphasized the importance of remembering basic video etiquette at the start of negotiations.

“In a virtual environment, it’s easy to skip over the pleasantries and get right to business. But everyone has a lot on their plate these days, and a few minutes spent asking after a person’s welfare can go a long way,” said Castonguay via email.

Once both parties have settled into the Zoom room, individuals can then present their case.

“When you’re ready to dive into your pitch, begin with a carefully crafted narrative expressing your appreciation for your organization, your colleagues, and your supervisor. From there, review the specific contributions you’ve made to help your team achieve its goals,” she continued.

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Think outside the Zoom room

Rather than limit the negotiation process to a Zoom meeting, individuals could also consider taking a more creative approach to achieve their objectives. Castonguay suggested crafting a “compelling” slide presentation.

Rajkumari Neogy, an epigenetic and executive coach, emphasized a similar sentiment. “There’s really opportunities here to being incredibly creative on how to show up differently, whether it’s through designing or crafting. My love language is PowerPoint,” said Neogy.

She also suggested creating a video to illustrate the employee’s thoughts and let the other person watch the presentation on their own time. In an age when the home functions as a part-time office and virtual learning center for many families, this kind gesture could go a long way.

Take pause

The negotiation process can be stressful for employees for numerous reasons including the employee-manager power dynamics at play. Situationally, Neogy emphasized the power of silence. This tactic could give employees time to assess the situation and gain leverage in the scenario.

“Be succinct. Name what it is that you want, and then stop talking. One of the most powerful tactics in negotiation is [pausing] and creating space for the other person to get uncomfortable and then allowing them to step toward you,” she said.

Also see

This post was written by and was first posted to TechRepublic

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