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Last Updated on December 19, 2018

12 Tactics to Negotiate Better and Not Be a Pushover

12 Tactics to Negotiate Better and Not Be a Pushover

It has been said that you do not get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate for. I have seen this play out time and time again – in my own life and in the lives of others. Chances are, you have too. Have you ever been in an employment situation where you were hired and thought you had an okay deal only to realize a colleague received a great deal?

Regardless of how skilled you are, chances are you can benefit from tips that position you to be a better negotiator. For example, if you are in talks to purchase a home and are wrangling among a seller, the seller’s agent and your own agent, you could benefit from tools to help you remain calm under pressure and assert your wishes.

If you are preparing to negotiate for a new position or promotion, and are questioning whether you are asking for too little, too much or just enough, here are at least 12 points on how to negotiate better so you can keep in mind prior to heading into negotiations.

1. Understand That Negotiations Are Inherently Stressful, and That’s Ok

Walking into a negotiation is not like walking into an informal lunch with a friend. Negotiations are inherently stressful, and you should let yourself off the hook for feeling anxious about these adrenaline-pumping discussions.

Minda Harts, the founder of The Memo, shared,

“Negotiations are a high-stakes game because everything is on the line. It is natural to feel anxiety. Whether you are negotiating pay, equity or whatever, it is important to prepare for high-stakes conversations. You can do this by conducting research, role-playing and getting clear on your worth.”

2. Know Your Worth

Before you ever sit down at a bargaining or negotiating table, you should have a clear sense of your worth. Understand what you do better than others and understand how your work will improve the organization or company to which you belong or are seeking to join.

At the most fundamental level, you should have a good sense of how your skills will add value to the company. When you have a sense of your worth, you have a starting point or frame of reference in negotiations. You will also be better prepared to answer the “what’s your salary requirement?” question.

Harts agreed,

“If you go into a negotiation not knowing your worth, you’ll look to others to define your worth and they may not value your contribution appropriately. Understanding your skills and expertise, and knowing your worth allows you to position yourself from a place or power.”

3. Understand Your Emotion and the Emotions of Others

In the workplace, women have been conditioned to hide or abandon emotion. Men and women alike are told emotion has no place in negotiations. This isn’t entirely true. It doesn’t serve us well to avoid or discard emotion.

We should understand our emotions as well as the emotions of others. When you understand your emotions and work to be emotionally intelligent, you anticipate what others are feeling and respond accordingly.

When you consciously try to understand the emotions of others, you allow that insight to assist you, enabling you to pivot and adjust during the actual negotiation. Failing to understand emotions may mean you are unable to develop creative approaches for unanticipated challenges.

Researchers Kimberlyn Leary, Julianna Pillemer and Michael Wheeler observed in a 2013 Harvard Business Review article:[1]

“The truth is that your passions matter in real-life deal making and dispute resolution. You need to understand, channel, and learn from your emotions in order to adapt to the situation at hand and engage others successfully. That means you need to be emotionally prepared to negotiate—even when you expect the process to go smoothly.”

4. Conduct Tons of Research

You cannot begin to know what is fair and what is appropriate without research.

If you are negotiating for a new position or promotion, you’ll want to know your predecessor’s benefits package. You’ll want to try to determine what the last person who interviewed and perhaps was offered the position received. You will want to review a company’s 990 to determine what its highest earners make and what those people do. You will want to know what the market offers for positions like the one to which you are applying and what you can be replaced for.

If you are negotiating for a new home, you will want to know what the home appraises for, whether there are liens against the property, what upgrades the seller has made to the home and what other homes on the block have sold for. You will also want to know whether there have been foreclosures in the area so you will know how those foreclosures impact your property value.

If you are in labor negotiations, there is a whole set of other information (such as profits, information from 990s, public complaints, long-term goals, etc.) you need to know before you can begin to know what is fair and acceptable for both the company and the union.

The bottom line is that walking into a negotiation without information is a recipe for disaster and dissatisfaction.

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5. Understand What Motivates the Other Party

For some people, status matters. For others, money and resources matter. For others still, autonomy and flexibility are motivators.

Regardless of which side of the negotiating table you sit on, you need to understand what motivates the people with whom you are negotiating. You cannot assess what you will need to give or make appropriate offers without an understanding of key motivators.

6. Don’t Wait for Perfection

One of the things I loved about Katty Kay and Claire Shipman’s The Confidence Code was their take on the dangers of perfection. They assert that often women wait for perfection before submitting projects or asking for a raise or promotion. They point out that we underestimate our own work.

I see this in my own career, and I imagine it rings true for others as well. The key takeaway for me from their book was that perfection isn’t insurance for progress. You don’t have to be perfect to begin negotiations over what you want.

If you wait for perfection, you may never seek out that raise, promotion or reassignment.

7. Say If Afraid

If you are someone who shuns conflict and the very thought of negotiating unnerves you, you should know that you can negotiate while afraid.

You do not have to be courageous to negotiate. You can ask for what you want, even when it scares you.

I remember desperately wanting a pay increase but was too afraid to ask for it. I was fearful I would introduce the topic at the wrong time; I was fearful my boss would scoff when I made my request; and most importantly, I was afraid she would say no.

My boss was an incredibly busy lawyer, and I knew every moment of her time was valuable. However, I knew that my silence and unwillingness to ask for what I wanted would gnaw at me.

I resolved that I was just going to ask and blurted out my request during a check-in. She said no. I thought about my presentation and realized that I should have made my request in a more formal manner. I should have put it in writing and outlined my contributions. I didn’t anticipate that even an informal request could get me closer to what I wanted.

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A couple of months later, my boss told me that she hadn’t forgotten my request, and when it was time for the annual cost of living increase, I received that as well as a small bump. She did exactly as she promised.

Going forward, I will be better prepared, but the lesson for me was to ask, even when fearful.

8. Be Willing to Walk Away

Every opportunity is not for you. Regardless of how much you want that position, home or promotion, be willing to walk away if you do not receive a deal that makes sense for you.

Do not allow yourself to get desperate and accept a position that you will come to view unfavorably in the future. Have enough confidence in yourself and in your abilities to leave the table completely.

When your sparring or negotiating partner realizes that you are willing to walk away completely, he or she may negotiate in better faith.

9. Shun Secrecy

I am a proponent of being discreet, but discreetness can be the enemy when it comes to negotiations.

To negotiate the best deal, you may need to shun secrecy. You will need to ask others what they earn or whether the offer you received makes sense for your years of experience, for the area of the country where you live or the position to which you are applying.

If possible, find out whether the company offered the position to others and on what terms. I was negotiating for a position and was comfortable accepting $85,000, and then a friend told me the company offered the position to a man with similar credentials and experience for $100,000. With the assistance of a friend, I was able to get $99,840.

This example illustrates why it is important to speak with trusted colleagues and mentors about offers and solicit their input on whether you are getting the best deal.

10. Look for the Win-Win

Negotiations are not one side takes all, so try not to fall into the “winners” and “losers” trap. It is possible to negotiate in a way where there are no losers but everyone wins.

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The best way to ensure a win-win situation is having tons of research, understanding what motivates the other party and being willing to show and discern emotion.

Another strategy for identifying the win-win is listening carefully during negotiations to discern what is of interest to the other party. People will tell you what they want – the question is whether you are listening.

If you are in tune with the person with whom you are negotiating, you will be better equipped to identify what he or she needs to feel satisfied and give it to that individual.

11. Refuse to Fill the Pregnant Pause

In my line of public relations work, I train colleagues and clients to resist the urge to fill the pregnant pause during media interviews. One tactic that some reporters use is silence during different stages of the interview, hoping the interviewee will keep talking. But with an abundance of words comes an abundance of opportunity for error.

The same is true in negotiations. Once you state your salary and compensation package requirements, be quiet. If the person you are speaking with gets silent, you remain silent with him or her. Do not fill the pregnant pause by lowering your requirements or awkwardly adding chatter because you are uncomfortable with silence. Refuse to fill the pregnant pause.

12. Be Honest

When you are negotiating for a new position, be clear with yourself about what you need. Be honest with yourself so that you can be honest with others.

If the offer represents 70 percent of what you want, do not discard the 30 percent that you are not receiving. If you are honest, you can make an informed decision about whether the position is indeed in your best interest or whether you should open yourself up for other opportunities.

If you can be mindful of these points and utilize these tactics, I am confident you will negotiate in a manner that gets you and the other party what you both truly need. You can negotiate like a pro and get the life that you deserve.

More Resources About Workplace Communication

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Harvard Business Review: Negotiating with Emotion

More by this author

Jennifer R. Farmer

An author and public relations expert specializes in helping socially-conscious entrepreneurs, celebrities and activists

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Last Updated on March 14, 2019

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

How it helps you:

If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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How it helps you:

Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

How it helps you:

This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

How it helps you:

One word: hierarchy.

All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

How it helps you:

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Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

6. What do you like about working here?

This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

How it helps you:

You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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How it helps you:

What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

Making Your Interview Work for You

Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

More Resources About Job Interviews

Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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