For many, negotiating doesn’t come easy, especially for women. According to Forbes, only about 30% of us actually negotiate in a work setting, compared to 46% of men. We tend to accept what is given to us simply because we are too afraid to ask for more. Initiating a negotiation is only half the battle too. You then question how the person on the other end is going to react during the negotiation. I totally get it. It can be extremely intimidating, awkward and uncomfortable to negotiate, especially if you’re not accustomed to doing it in the first place. I’ve been there. But you know what? Sometimes, all it takes is pushing yourself to do the uncomfortable to help you achieve exactly (or close to) what you’re aiming for.
When we think of negotiating, we immediately think of salary wages or job promotions. That’s typical, but there’s also so many other areas of everyday life where negotiating skills can come in handy to save you some money. Think signing up for a gym membership, paying for cable service, purchasing a car and home, and even meeting with wedding vendors. I’ve been able to negotiate these in some way or another over the years, because my motto has always been that it never hurts to ask a question. I treat all my negotiations first with a simple question of “can you meet me at X price?” or “is that the best price can do?” I then wait for a reaction from the other party involved. Depending on their response, I’m able to use strategies and tactics I’ve learned throughout the years to effectively negotiate to get me to where I want to be goal or price-wise. What I’m saying is, don’t let your fears stop you from at least trying and being inquisitive!
Even though I have negotiated here and there, I am in no means an expert (I wish!). I’m always keeping my eyes and ear open on how to become an even better negotiator. When I heard there was going to be a free session all about negotiating at Salesforce (where I work), I immediately signed up. The session was led by one of Salesforce’s managing counsels, Mary Quigg, who is absolutely fantastic and full of knowledge. I went into the session thinking it would be solely how to negotiate a job promotion or salary, but everything that we talked about could quite literally be applied to any type of situation. How great is that? I learned some solid tricks of the trade from Mary that I couldn’t wait any longer to share with you!
Have a Position
Before you go into your negotiation, you have to have a clear idea of what you want out of it and what you’re willing to accept. It’s important to really think about it and jot those notes down on paper. What do you ultimately hope to gain from the negotiation? What are you willing to compromise on? It’s important to remember that negotiating isn’t likely going to be a conversation that 100% swings in your favor. It’s likely going to result in both parties involved compromising to come to an agreement or resolution. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t end up getting exactly what you were looking for. Have realistic expectations. Remember that and you’ll start your negotiation on the right foot and with the right attitude.
Be Armed with Knowledge
As you’re thinking about your position in the actual negotiation, it’s critical to come prepared. Learn all you can about the other party, the participants involved and what their ultimate goal may be. This is also a good time to put yourself in the other party’s shoes so you can anticipate how they may react. Anticipate their objections and prepare for them so you can find that middle ground and look to compromise. I’m a huge proponent of writing all of this down on paper to reference if needed during the negotiation.
In terms of your position, make sure you have rationale and justification for your position. For example, if you’re negotiating a salary or a promotion, you may want to check out some things to do in this post first. You want to present facts of why you’re deserving so you actually have a leg to stand on. I did just that a few years ago when requesting a raise and had my list of rationale to reference when it came time to why I was asking for a raise. I negotiated and went back and forth twice with my employer at the time and basically met them in the middle at a number we both felt comfortable with, which was a win/win in my eyes.
Go in with a Strategy
After you have your facts ready to go, Mary recommended practicing your stance. I interpreted that as practicing with someone close to you or even in the mirror, if that works for you. I’ve personally never really practiced my negotiations out loud, but I could definitely see how that would be beneficial, especially if you tend to get nervous in intimidating conversations. Mary mentioned that you have to persuade yourself first before you can persuade someone else. How simply genius is that? Because really, how are you going to convince someone if you’re not fully convinced in what you are asking for?
The more you practice, the more confident you will become. You want to ensure you are fully confident and ready to kill it the moment you walk into that negotiation. Have your facts ready to go and be assertive in what you are asking for. Remember what your position is. Be aware of the situation and use your best judgment so you can determine what a fair outcome is. Know when it makes sense to compromise, but also know when it makes sense to be firm and stand your ground.
Succeed in the Negotiation
Now that you know your position, have your homework done, and have a strategy, you’re set up to succeed in the negotiation. Effectively communicate your point of view, providing your facts and rationale. Tone of voice, body language, and facial expressions can say so much without saying anything at all. Pay attention to those of the other other and also be mindful of your own. No matter how you feel going into the negotiation, walk in with a positive attitude and a smile on your face. Mary recommended being empathetic and understanding as to not come across as too aggressive or harsh. You can still be a successful negotiator by being a pleasant human being – trust me! There’s a time and a place to be stern if you need to be, but you can still do it in a respectful way.
After you’ve stated your case, sit back and wait. Listen. Try not to become distracted in what you want to say next or what you’re anticipating they will say. Listen to the words the other party is saying. Resolve any misunderstandings if necessary to ensure both parties are on the same page. Then wait again. Mary mentioned there is so much power in silence and I couldn’t agree more. That is something I definitely need to improve on. Most nervous people tend to fill silence with words, because ummm..who likes awkward silence!? Definitely not me. But sometimes simply by just being quiet and letting there be a very long pause can lead the other party to buckling and compromising first. You never know!
The negotiation will end likely once both parties have come to a resolution that they both can agree upon. Both parties will (hopefully) leave feeling like they ‘won’ or got a good deal, which is usually the best case scenario, as you want to end the conversation on amicable terms. Be appreciative and recognize the amount of time given to you. And don’t forget to say your thank you’s (again with a smile)!
How do you feel about negotiating? Does this post inspire you or make you nervous? Have you negotiated recently or in the past? Feel free to leave your thoughts and questions in the comments so we can have a chat about it!
Kelly Nash is a Chicago-based writer, events host, speaker, and founder of Lipstick & Ink®, a career and wellness organization aimed to motivate female 9-5ers and side hustlers to own their power and make their mark. In addition to her writing and career consulting experience with L&I®, Kelly works full-time in technology as a Success Manager at Salesforce. She is also in the process of writing her first book.
Kelly has landed coverage in print and broadcast outlets including Thrive Global, International Association of Women, General Assembly, TheGlu, SheFactor, EvolveHer, Cliquish, and Six Degrees Society.