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Updated on Tuesday, February 2, 2016
When it comes to your career, perhaps one of the most important skills you’ll need to help you climb that corporate ladder is the ability to negotiate with aplomb.
Still, not everyone is born with the ability to negotiate like a pro—some of us need a little help (present company included). We tapped Keld Jensen, a negotiation advisor, author and professor, for some of his best advice on how we can negotiate our way into a higher salary this year.
Jensen recommends a three-pronged approach to get the job done. Read this before heading into your next review and you’ll be golden.
How to Prepare
You need, want and deserve that raise. Here are three things Jensen recommends having in place to make that happen:
1. Set the time and place
You don’t necessarily have to just accept your manager’s chosen time and place, says Jensen. “Have some influence on where to negotiate,” he suggested. “Try and negotiate in a ‘neutral space’ instead of the manager’s office, which would be his or her home field.” He also recommends sitting at a round table instead of across from each other at an office desk, if you can, and sharing something between the two of you, like a snack or drinks. “Make it a pleasant experience for both of you,” he said. If you can, you should also try to negotiate with just one person at a time, instead of a group. A group dynamic, as many of us know, can be much more intimidating.
2. Negotiate for more than just a salary increase
Jensen calls this “NegoEconomics”, meaning that just negotiating for a higher salary is a zero-sum game, where success for you happens at the expense of your employer, and success for the employer means failure for you (in other words, no raise). “If you ask for an additional $500 a month, that is obviously a loss for the employer,” said Jensen. “Sometimes negotiations become easier if you negotiate for more—something that would have a benefit for you that might be higher than the cost to the employer.” For example, Jensen suggests considering other variables as well, like vacation, paid phone bills, a new computer, better insurance, a pension plan or education expenses. “The more variables you involve into the negotiation, the easier it will become since there is more to negotiate about,” he said.
3. Come prepared
Jensen says the number one thing most people do wrong when it comes to negotiating is not to prepare ahead of time. You need to know your starting point and your ultimate target, and you need to know how much room you have to negotiate—it’s important to be realistic. Just because you know you deserve a raise doesn’t mean that your boss—who may be busy trying to keep a struggling company afloat—will. You should also come prepared to talk about how your role in the company is growing, the number of new clients you’ve brought on, some examples of amazing customer reviews all about you, etc. “Negotiations typically go much better when the other side is receiving something of value,” says Jensen. “Before you enter the room, have a few ideas of how you’ve already benefited your organization, and ways that you can offer more.”
Armed with this insider knowledge to help you tackle your salary negotiations head-on, there’s no reason that 2016 can’t be your most successful year yet.