Jan 26th 2004
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- Be persuasive: It's hard to force your boss to increase your compensation, and trying to do so can potentially damage your working relationship. On the other hand, it's much easier to persuade him that it might benefit the organization to pay you more, and that doing so will likely improve the way you deal with each other going forward.
- Aim high, and be realistic: Many researchers have found a strong correlation between people's aspirations and the results they achieve in negotiation. At the same time, you want to suggest ideas to which your boss can realistically say yes.
- Start off with the right tone: To be persuasive, you want to let your boss know that you will listen and seek to understand his views. At the same time, you expect your boss to do the same for you, so you can work together to address this issue. Avoid ultimatums, threats and other coercive behavior.
- Clarify your interests: Your compensation should satisfy a range of needs, not just salary. Make sure you have thought about other types of compensation that would be valuable as well -- like profit sharing, stock options that vest immediately, a bonus, greater work responsibilities, a quicker promotion schedule, increased vacation or flexible hours.
- Anticipate their interests: Just like you, your boss has needs and concerns of his own. To persuade him to say yes, your ideas will have to address those interests.
- Create several options: Joint brainstorming is the most effective way to find ideas that satisfy everyone's interests. Brainstorming works best when you separate it from commitment -- first create possible solutions, then decide among them.
- Focus on objective criteria: It is far easier to persuade someone to agree with your proposal if he sees how that proposal is firmly grounded on objective criteria, such as what similar firms pay people of like experience, or what others in the firm make.
- Think through your alternatives: In case you cannot persuade your boss to say yes, you need to have a plan B to satisfy your interests. Part of preparation is creating a specific action plan so that you know what you'll do if you have to walk away from the table.
- Prepare thoughtfully to achieve your goals: This is the only aspect of your negotiations you can completely control. To take advantage of all the above advice, you have to invest a significant amount of your time and energy.
- Review to learn: The only way you can really improve your ability to negotiate is to explicitly learn from your experiences. After you finish negotiations, reflect on what you did that worked well, and what you might want to do differently.