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- Effective negotiation takes patience and skill.
- It’s more about creating value for both parties than winning.
- Regardless of whether you’re negotiating a trade deal or your next promotion, here’s how you can advocate for yourself and reach the best possible outcome.
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Your salary, job title, and benefits are all open to negotiation. While they’re all worth fighting for, a fighting spirit isn’t necessarily what you should bring to the negotiating table.
Instead, Wharton Business School professor Maurice Schweitzer told Business Insider that effective negotiators focus on creating value — and “never talk about winning the negotiation.”
“The ideal is to focus on building relationships, finding common ground, taking a long-term perspective,” Schweitzer said.
Schweitzer was talking about President Donald Trump’s negotiations with China, but his suggestions also apply to anyone looking to advocate for themselves while maintaining a good relationship. The longer you work in an industry, the higher the chances that you’ll be working with the same people “for years or decades” — so make sure you aren’t sacrificing long-term relationships for the short-term benefits that come from succeeding in a negotiation, Schweitzer said.
“The problem is once you burn through relationships, you end up leaving yourself few options what to do next,” Schweitzer said.
With those broader considerations in mind, here’s what to do the next time you sit down at the negotiating table.
Do your research
One way to display the value you bring to the table is to quantify the times you’ve been successful at work — the more concrete and verifiable numbers, the better.
For example, use information like the number of readers you’ve drawn to a publication or clients to a company to negotiate.
“Figure out what’s most important to you — a higher salary, more flexibility, a better title — and make sure you find the data you need to support your best ask,” Eden Abrahams, the founder of Clear Path Executive Coaching, said.
Employers expect employees to negotiate, so they often anchor salaries toward the lower end of an acceptable range. For that reason alone, you should always do your research and negotiate, Abrahams said.
“Don’t take the first package that’s offered to you,” Abrahams said.
For salary information, you can use websites like Glassdoor and Salary.com to discover what your company (and their competitors) pay employees in similar positions.
For more objective data points, consult the US Bureau of Labor Statistics or professional associations and industry groups that publish annual salary surveys. Useful benchmarks to research are market rate, prior salary for the position, and salary-increase proposals.
Do some internal research too — how will you create value for the company?
“Make a list of what you want and what you are willing to do for it,” John Baldoni, the author of “Moxie: The Secret to Bold and Gutsy Leadership,” said. “Think through what you will say. It may even help you to script out your responses.”
Show what you’ve already accomplished
If you’re looking to get a promotion, you might want to consider writing a report on the work you’ve done so far with corresponding data points.
Make sure to come prepared to the negotiation with your job-performance records, a résumé, and any other essential documents.
Considering your employer and their bottom line is crucial, Jennifer Bevan, a career coach at JCB Coaching, said.
This step is an essential one to building your confidence. At the very least, you should give your employer a list of your accomplishments. Studies show that those who don’t give a good reason for their promotion drop their employers’ compliance rates by 40%.
Be a team player
Be bold. You shouldn’t be shy about discussing salary or perks, Baldoni said. Make it clear why you deserve higher pay or better benefits.
“It connotes greater responsibility,” he said. It might even be more helpful for both parties if you are straightforward and plainly say that money is important to you.
But make sure you don’t act entitled. “You can talk about your accomplishments and your effort, but don’t act like a prima donna,” Baldoni said.
Keep your employer’s goals in mind. When presenting your case, acknowledge your boss’ perspective. “If you want to telecommute one day a week, highlight how you expect the arrangement to benefit your performance, your boss, and the organization as a whole,” Abrahams said.
If you want a better office location, “position your request as something that will help you work better with your team,” Baldoni said. You should try to understand your employer’s position as well. If you don’t understand the reasoning behind their offer, you may not have a strong enough basis for your negotiation.
The key is not trying to negotiate everything and “win” the interaction.
“You still want to be a team player,” Bevan said. “So don’t nitpick tiny things that make you look like you’re getting too big for your britches.”
Maggie Zhang contributed to an earlier version of this post.