How to Take Charge in Professional Negotiations

Courtney Jones, Founder, Mom Source Network

Courtney Jones, Founder, Mom Source Network

You want that raise. You deserve it.

You want more flexibility in your schedule. You’ve demonstrated reliable and punctual attention to your duties.

You got the job offer, but the salary is lower than expected. You know the fair market value and you know what unique experience you’ll deliver.

So, why is it so hard to ask for what you believe is fair?

Often, it is as simple as not knowing where to start, says Courtney Jones, founder of Mom Source Network, an online community that provides ongoing professional development and networking. Preparation is key, she adds. If you have a game plan, including a strong opening line, you take much of the fear and uncertainty out of the “ask,” she says.

“Preparing your thoughts in advance keeps you on track and shows the other person that you are being thoughtful and prepared,” Jones says.

Starting the conversation is the hardest part. Jones offers some proven tips to get over that first big obstacle:

  • Always start with appreciation. “Enthusiasm is not weakness,” Jones insists. Effective opening lines include “Thank you for the time…”, “I’m excited to talk…”, and “Looking forward to joining the team.”
  • Offer a shared goal. “We can do some great work together on this team…”, “We can definitely meet the company’s goals this year.”
  • Be ready with a one sentence ask (e.g., “I need more flexibility.”). Keep it simple.

Webinar: Negotiation: The Why and The How: Join Jones July 25 to learn effective techniques for negotiation. Learn how to identify opportunities to initiative a discussion around pay, promotion, and flexibility. View Program Details

Next? Don’t talk. Listen. Take in the response, and take a few notes as applicable. If the answer is negative, keep the discussion alive. For example, if your boss tells you the company doesn’t have a telecommuting policy, don’t let the idea die on the vine.

Instead, come back with “Thank you. I’m looking forward to reviewing this in more detail and preparing some additional thoughts, and would love to continue the discussion tomorrow. Is there a good time for us to meet?”

Use that second meeting to reaffirm a “company-first” strategy. What is the value for the employer or manager? A happier employee more likely to be retained? A more productive employee? “Focus your efforts on quantifying what the other person gains by agreeing to your requests,” Jones says.

Author: Michael Causey