Six Steps to Successful Negotiation

June 24, 2020


Many of us are afraid to negotiate for a raise, more time off, better working arrangements, a promotion, whatever it is, we struggle with the process. Often, we will talk ourselves out of what we deserve for fear we may not get what we want. We don’t want to be perceived as greedy or ungrateful or face any conflict, so we’ll just live with the status quo. The truth is many of us avoid negotiating because we’re afraid of fear itself.

No matter the reason, we do ourselves a huge disservice by not asking “for the order.” How we value ourselves reflects on more than our salary. By shying away from negotiating, we’re putting our long-term growth opportunities and earning potential at risk.

“Let us never negotiate out of fear.
But let us never fear to negotiate.”
~ John F. Kennedy

Negotiating does not need to be difficult. It takes patience practice and perseverance. When you do your homework, the outcome is likely a win-win. You’ll feel good and the other(s) will feel good. What’s more, you’ll gain confidence, which will continue to help you better negotiate.

To increase your chances of getting what you want, follow these proven six steps to successful negotiations.

1. Determine Your Main Objective

Preparation is key to negotiation success. Ask yourself what you want to achieve from the negotiation? If you’d like an increase in pay, for example, be prepared to support why you deserve a raise. Perhaps you have taken on more responsibility; maybe it’s been over two years since you have received a pay increase, or according to market research and pay standards, your salary is below the average. When you come prepared with supporting points, you are more likely to receive your goal. Above all, never compare yourself to someone else when expressing a desire for a raise. This is poor form, a professional no-no.

2. Determine a Fallback Position

Negotiation is give and take. If your supervisor agrees you deserve a raise but explains there is no money in the budget, don’t throw in the towel. Rather, be prepared to ask when you can expect your raise and ask him/her to put it in writing. In the meantime, ask him/her if he/she would consider giving you something else until you receive your raise like more vacation time, flexible hours or working remotely. Having other options will help you achieve positive results. Be sure to express gratitude even if you don’t get what you ask for right away. This conveys professionalism, which your boss will appreciate.

3. Exude Confidence

Successful negotiations require confidence. Confidence shines when you’re prepared, dressed appropriately and aware of your body language (good eye contact, posture, etc.). Self-assurance also shows open-mindedness, flexibility, and self-control. By exercising confidence in your negotiation, your boss can be more inclined to believe in the benefits of your request.

4. Communicate Assertively

Communication is the language of leadership. When choosing to communicate assertively, you’re conveying confidence and consideration – an essential skill to successful negotiations. Assertive communicators tend to keep discussions going and facilitate mutually beneficial outcomes. Your voice is strong and tone steady. You come across more credible rather than emotional or critical (passive or aggressive). You communicate your views with ‘I’ instead of ‘you.’ Avoid being confrontational or emotional. This will derail your negotiation efforts.

5. Listen Actively

Successful negotiators are excellent listeners. After sharing your goal and the reason why you’re entitled to it, listen carefully to what your counterpart says. Don’t think about your reply while he/she is talking. Then paraphrase what he/she said to confirm understanding. This will allow you to gain important information. Follow-up with questions and continue to probe until you feel you understand where things stand. Acknowledge your feelings of frustration or disappointment. Be prepared to propose options that will work toward a win-win.

6. Don’t Take ‘No” Personally

There will be times, as hard as you’ve prepared, you will not get that raise, promotion, job title, or the objective for which you planned. Don’t let the experience get the best of you. As the saying goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” This is your opportunity to learn. Review the conversation, evaluate the way your managed yourself and consider why things did not go the way you hoped. This persistent approach will help you improve your future negotiating efforts.

Nancy SchnoebelenAbout the Author: Nancy Schnoebelen Imbs is an empowering professional development consultant, dynamic motivational speaker and author. Highly dedicated and results-oriented, she has the skill and passion for helping individuals become more confident and successful in business and beyond. She and her company Polished help clients focus on key adjustments that result in meaningful impact and effectiveness.

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