This month’s expert: Lindsay McAneeley, a partner in the litigation practice group at Carlsmith Ball
For many people, the mere mention of negotiating can cause heart-racing anxiety. Some would rather avoid negotiation altogether even if it means giving up better deals, opportunities for growth or more pay. A recent PayScale survey reported 57% of employees have never asked for a raise, and 28% of them said it’s because they’re uncomfortable negotiating.
Negotiating can be challenging, but don’t avoid it. These tips can help you feel comfortable with the process and hone your skills.
Skilled negotiators do their homework. Before any negotiation, identify and research key issues, anticipate your opponent’s arguments or questions, and develop your positions and responses, with facts to support them. Information is ammunition. For example, when asking for a raise, research the market rate for your position and available alternatives, and prepare a list of recent accomplishments.
Also consider practicing your arguments. Rehearsing what you want to say will ease your nerves and increase your confidence, which will make you a more effective advocate.
KNOW WHAT YOU WANT AND WHAT YOU WON’T ACCEPT
Go into any negotiation with a strong grasp of two things: what you are aiming for and what is unacceptable. If you want a 10% raise, consider the absolute least you would accept – perhaps 5%. Anything less is your walk-away point, at which you would be comfortable leaving for something better. Having those numbers in mind keeps you focused and helps prevent you from accepting something you won’t be happy with.
AIM HIGH AND BE WILLING TO COMPROMISE
Whether we like it or not, successful negotiations involve give and take. Therefore, start with an offer that’s higher than your target, and identify areas where you’re willing to compromise. If you make a stellar case and get everything you ask for, great. If not, you have room to negotiate down to your target.
Equally important to making your case is listening to the other party. Understanding their side can be critical to identifying leverage and concession points and crafting a solution that meets the needs of both parties. For instance, if your company can’t afford your raise request, consider accepting a smaller raise in exchange for other benefits.
By following these tips, you’ll gain confidence and be more effective in negotiations, which significantly increases the chances of developing a solution everyone can agree on.