Salary Negotiation Landmines (And How to Work Through Them)

Ugh, salary negotiation. I know how hard this is, even when you know you're supposed to do it and even if you've done it before it can still be hard (trust me, it's still hard for me, too!). I think it's hard because it triggers so fears about whether you'll be liked, respected, and whether you'll still be able to get the job if you ask for more. My earlier post on Salary Negotiation and Self Worth tackles some of that. But if you still really struggle with salary negotiation, and most of us do, I have a few more tips that can help you get through it and hopefully to a resolution that feels good for both you and the person making your offer. Here we go: 

1. Don't speak too soon or agree too soon. Practice these words: "let me think about it". Oftentimes, good negotiators make us feel like we need to provide an answer immediately. It's easy to feel put on the spot and like you need to say yes right away when you're asked if a salary package or a number will work for you. If you feel like you're being asked to agree to something and you're just not sure yet, simply say "Let me take a bit of time and think about that. Can I get back to you tomorrow morning?" 

2. Don't give your work away for less than it is worth. How do you know what it's worth? Do your research so that you know what your value is. If you are currently employed, look at what you are currently earning now as one data point of your demonstrated value. Research salary information on glassdoor or so that you have a market range for the type of work you do. You can also put together a demonstrated value estimate for the work that you do. How much money can you save the company you're working with? How much value can you help them earn? Those are great ways to determine and make a case for the value of your work. 

3. Don't entrench yourself in a position that makes you impossible to negotiate with. Leave room to be flexible. For example, you might have a dollar amount in mind that you think your work is worth, but maybe you're willing to be flexible on your benefits, or your work location, or your number of hours, or the type of work you're doing, so that if you get stuck on one piece of your negotiation package you have room to move with other factors. Think about what you can be flexible on so you have room to negotiate when you need it. 

4. Do listen for and understand the values of the other side. Be clear on your highest priority (the "WHY" behind what you want). And then ask questions of them so that you have a mutual understanding  of the things that are most important to them as well. Really listen for their needs and values. Negotiation can then find ways to meet both sets of needs. You can say "let me see if I understand you, it sounds like x is most important to you, am I hearing that accurately do you think? Am I missing anything?". This will help make sure you're both understanding each other. 

Remember that your goal in negotiating something like your salary and benefits is not to win or lose, it's to find an arrangement that satisfies the most important needs of both sides. You'll be able to end a negotiation well if you've considered and spoken to both your needs and theirs, and that's where your feeling of self-worth will be honored. 

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