When you negotiate something, you are essentially asking for someone to trade you something, and making a case for why that would be a good idea. Negotiating with your boss often involves asking for a change in compensation, scheduling, or responsibilities. There are several steps to a successful negotiation: preparation, presentation, contemplation, and sealing the deal.
1. Define your goals. Do you want a higher salary? Do you want more hours? Do you want to be paid for working overtime? Narrowing down what it is you want will help you approach the task of asking for it. Ask yourself multiple questions when preparing to negotiate with your boss. Knowing exactly what you want will prevent stuttering, struggling with your words, repeating things multiple times, and being un-knowledgable with your question.
2. Do your research. For example, if you are asking for a higher salary, find out what the going rate is for the work you do. Once you do your research, and know the answers to these and other questions, you’ll know the facts about what other people are paid, and you’ll be much better prepared to ask for what you want. It always helps to keep a notepad handy when you are doing your research; you can write down whatever you need to remember. A few questions to ask yourself are:
How much do your friends get paid for the same work or job?
Does the amount that your friends get depend on the level of responsibility they have?
3. Plan. You have to plan what you are going to say, and how you will say it. Practice this often; after all, you definitely do not want to sound nosy or arrogant when speaking to your boss about a raise. It’s best to write a little speech and practice it a lot when you are at home. The more you practice your tone and words, the more of a chance you will have to get a ‘yes’.
4. Begin with lower-priority requests. It’s not really a good idea to start with the big one and end with the little ones when negotiating. Instead, start with a few small request and work your way up to the big guy. You have a better possibility of getting what you want if you start small. Remember, “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”
5. Accentuate the positive. This is usually not a time for the grand show of modesty. You must emphasize your accomplishments and abilities and point out why it is that you deserve what you are asking for.
6. Listen. Most of the time, it is dreadfully important to listen to your boss… If you don’t, you’ll probably say the wrong thing and it will become a quick “No.” Concentrate on what your boss says when you are not speaking. Do not interrupt. Do not speak until he is finished speaking, or unless he asks you a question. It is vital that you listen closely.
7. Consider your boss’s reply. You might be presented with a counteroffer, an offer that is made in response to your offer. You don’t have to respond to it right away. Take your time, and think about it. Is this offer good for you? Will it meet your needs?
You don’t have to give your answer immediately; wait a little bit before coming back to the counteroffer. Your boss might think that you feel deprived if you don’t respond right away.
8. Brainstorm win-win opportunities together. If your boss doesn’t jump at your first request and his counteroffer doesn’t suit you, think about other ways you can make the scenario a win-win. If you want more vacation time, for example, and he isn’t able or willing to provide it, consider foregoing a raise in exchange for more time off each year. Or if you are suggesting that you give up a certain responsibility that you don’t think should be on your plate, ask him about taking on something else in its place, instead. If you can both “win” at the end in one way or another, you’re more likely to get his support for your proposal.
9. Talk through the details when appropriate. The best time to iron out the details isn’t always during your initial negotiation or acceptance. You can agree to something general and then go away to iron out the details. Once you have an outline of what you believe you’ve both agreed to, send it to your boss via email and double check that you’re on the same page.
10. Sign on the dotted line. Once both you and your boss have reached an agreement, it’s a good idea to put that final offer in writing. Both of you should sign the document. This will prevent and future mis-understandings or mis-communications with your boss about what was actually agreed upon. Still, an old-fashioned handshake might come in handy, especially if your boss has a good memory.
11. Avoid the mistake of not preparing. Make sure you have done your research well and you know what you will be talking about and the risks you might be taking. If you’re not sure about these or yourself, postpone the negotiation until you are prepared.
12. Don’t try to win at all costs. Arguing or using intimidating behavior is going to hinder, not help. Remember that the central process of negotiation is the discussion with others to reach an agreement or compromise. It’s a dialogue, not a monologue!
13. Avoid just talking, without listening. Listen carefully to what the other person said, is saying, or has to say. Speak when its your turn to speak, or you will fail in proper communication. If you interrupt the other person just to make a point or add something, your boss will probably be making a decision ahead of time… and its probably “NO”.
14. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. If you are trying to act ‘tough’ because you think it will make the discussion go your way, well, be prepared to hear that it’s not. Be the most confident version of yourself, other than trying to be the macho-man that you think will win every time.
Do not get aggressive at your boss if things don’t go your way. If you feel yourself getting angry, ask for a few minutes break away from your boss to recollect yourself.