- Heidi Deja, Communications Manager, BASF Crop Protection (@news2pr)
- Dr. Jeff Langenderfer, Associate Professor of Marketing/Law and Associate Dean, Meredith College (@jeff_jlangend)
- Jayme Owen, Senior Vice President, FleishmanHillard (@jaymelyle)
- Jennifer Venable, General Counsel, Capitol Broadcasting Company (@cbccorporate)
A ‘difficult conversation’ may include reprimanding or firing an employee, telling your significant other bad news, or letting your child know that no, they cannot have cake and ice cream for breakfast every morning. This is a one-way discussion without a back-and-forth. Negotiation, on the other hand, is an effort to find common ground between two different viewpoints.
Now that we know the difference, let’s get into some helpful tips our experienced panel shared about negotiating our way to success.
Preparation is key
Just as you prepare for any other meeting, you need to prepare to negotiate. Do your research. Always go into your negotiation meeting with data and facts. Gather information and consider details from a range of areas that can be negotiated (hint: it’s more than just money). What benefits are important to you? What responsibilities can help you advance your career? Think long term about where you want to be and what your career goals are.
Part of preparation is determining your alternatives. Remember, you are preparing for a back and forth conversation, not that your first offer will be accepted. Think about and determine your BATNA – Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement.
Preparing yourself is also important
Even though we know a negotiation and a difficult conversation are two different things, inexperienced negotiators can still have trouble differentiating between the two. Prepare yourself by learning your weaknesses (though this make take time and experience) when it comes to negotiation. At the very least, try to take your emotions out of the process (see above note about preparation – having data and facts can help do this).
Whenever possible, have the conversation in person
“You cannot convey context, particularly emotional context, in an electronic format” - Jennifer Venable.
With digital communication now commonplace, there are still conversations that are best done in person. A negotiation is one of those. There are some exceptions to the rule, including meeting preparation. If you’ve done your preparation and have data and facts to support your offer, you can potentially send that information digitally prior to your meeting. This gives your counterpart time to digest the information you’ve provided and also prepare for the meeting.
The time has come to sit down and talk through your offer. Since you’ve prepared all of your information in advance, you can use your energy to listen instead of worry over your part of the conversation. Ask questions. But don’t just listen to the answers, use active listening during your meeting. It’s important to have empathy for the other person in this negotiation, and active listening helps you put yourself in their frame of mind. What is it that they really want? How do their goals align with yours? Additionally, don’t assume you both have the same life experiences and that you negotiate the same way. Your tactics will change with every person you negotiate with, and active listening will help you adjust as needed.
Just as you’re asking questions (and really listening to their answers), your counterpart will also ask questions of you. Because you’ve prepared your data and yourself, you should be ready to answer your questions confidently – but do not answer defensively.
Asking for a Raise (Or Getting Your First Offer)
This is the big one. This is the negotiation that everyone has at some point, and it’s not always easy. Dr. Jeff Langenderfer shared with YPNs that almost all offers are negotiable, and yet almost no one negotiates. In fact, this lack of negotiation affects women more than men, as they’re often less likely to initiate a negotiation and simply take the first offer. Don’t let this happen to you. Remember, you can and should negotiate more than just salary.
Here are some quick tips from our panel on stepping into your next raise/offer negotiation:
- Make sure the manager is not in a current stressful situation. If so, wait to raise your offer.
- Document throughout the year all of your successes and when you have gone above and beyond. This is part of your ‘preparation is key’.
- Have the conversation first thing in the morning or just after lunch. Statistics have shown that this is the best time to approach a manager about a raise. Late morning and late afternoon are the worst.
- When accepting a job offer, while it may seem counterproductive, all panel members agreed that you should leave some money on the table. Requiring your new employer to max out their salary range on you may cause them to later have buyer’s remorse and put undue pressure on you in your new job.
Now that you’re prepared for your next negotiation, what are you going to do next to advance your career?