What Are You Really Negotiating?

It’s really true what they say – everything is negotiable!

When was the last time you negotiated? Was it for a new job offer, an internal raise, a promotion?

What were you negotiating for? Larger salary, huge bonus, better benefits, stock options or other incentives to make your life better and happier?

All those things sound good, but how many times do you walk away from a negotiation feeling good about the conversation?

It makes no sense to put all your efforts into working hard or going after your dream job, only to come up unprepared in the negotiation stage. The first step in a good negotiation strategy is getting clear on your final outcome.

You put yourself in a place of advantage when you understand the alternatives, you are able to communicate your value and you can effectively and strategically respond to counter offers and opposing viewpoints.

Here a few, quick tips on how you can bring your “A” game to the negotiation table.

Be persuasive, but not forceful.

Walking into your boss’s office with an ultimatum or threat not only damages your working relationship, but creates a contentious situation.

Explain and show how what you are asking for also benefits the organization and allows you to be a better contributor.

Aim high, but be realistic.

Nothing is wrong with having lofty goals, but be able to evaluate the situation from all angles. Are you asking for a promotion to a new leadership role when there are no opportunities or the company is cutting back?

Think about what is possible in your current work environment and have a few options or backup plan in mind that you are willing to consider. Don’t ask your boss to make decisions about what is outside his/her sphere of influence.

Clarity your wants, but don’t make it about just money.

Money matters and if you are bringing more to the table and to the company’s bottom line than your salary represents, then talk about it. However, show the correlation between the additional costs of what you want with how you increase the company’s growth.

Are you bringing in enough clients to cover your raise? Can you leverage technology to support a remote work schedule at a lower cost? Have you thought about other options beyond salary like more vacation, flexible?

Collaborate with your boss, but don’t overlook his/her goals.

Just like you, your boss has goals, expectations, concerns and commitments. Make sure your ideas, suggestions, recommendations and change take into consideration things that are important to him/her.

Ask about key, strategic initiatives and programs coming down the line. Explore how you can play a more integral role in the company’s success or whether a newly created role can be an easier sell for more money or more benefits.

Think about all goals, but remember your deal breakers.

A key part of preparing for negotiations is know what you are willing to say no to and when you will walk away from it all. Be very, very clear on what your next steps will be if the negotiation goes sour.

If you have to wait 6 months to get your wishes is that good enough or do you need it to happen in 3 months? Will you be able to mentally and emotionally stay committed to the job if your needs cannot be met at all.

Negotiate on value, but focus on what you can control.

You may do an amazing job in the negotiation process and still have to walk away not getting what you want at that time. There may be factors outside your control and beyond what your boss can do, but that doesn’t mean you failed at negotiating your position.

Invest your time, energy and efforts on what you can control, speak when needed to have your needs met and continuously evaluate your personal and professional situation. What can you control and how can you leverage that now?

Practice makes perfect, but don’t forget the lessons.

You will get better at negotiating the more you do it and the more prepared you are in each meeting. Spend less energy on beating yourself up if your case is not strong and instead look for what you can learn in moving forward.

Reflect and chronicle what worked best in the negotiation meeting; make note of how you were feeling, what thoughts were racing through your mind and how you responded to questions and counteroffers.

Negotiation is part art and part science, but the more you practice, the better you become at it…it’s that simple. Walk into those meetings knowing your worth, being prepared and being open to another perspective.