5 tips in negotiating a pay rise

The win/win

Negotiation is a process where two or more parties with different needs and goals discuss an issue to find a mutually acceptable solution.  Which is a formal way of saying, negotiation can get a result where (hopefully) everyone leaves happy.

A good negotiator can make someone think they’re getting the better end of the bargain while managing to achieve exactly what they want for themselves from the situation.

Having the skills to talk your way in or out of situations is one that will come in handy time and time again – especially when it comes to obtaining a pay rise or new work opportunity.

5 tips to help you talk your way to the top

1. Be prepared

One of the best tools in any negotiator’s kit is walking into a situation prepared. According to an article on the subject by Rob Walker on Inc.com:

“What the experts make of it varies a bit, but a point that pretty much everyone makes is that the outcome of most negotiations has less to do with how vehemently you argue in the moment than it does with how well you prepared beforehand. You are advised, everywhere, to research the issue extensively. How much are other vendors selling that brass dish for? What do your competitors charge for the service you’re offering? How much does a person with your experience usually get paid?

“What you’re looking for is a standard, and your real goal, of course, is to find the standard that suggests the best deal for you.”

When asking for a pay rise, this means walking into a meeting having done your research. Do the maths, have the statistics, and even a full business case on hand to back you up when you assert your value to the company.

2. Aim high

Negotiation can be likened to bartering, but in reverse. You start with a low-ball offer when bartering in a market for a souvenir, however, when negotiating a pay rise you want to ask for a figure higher than you’re actually expecting. This way, when your boss offers you a lower figure, you’ll be able to accept it without conceding the money you originally hoped for.

“Some research has indicated that the result of a negotiation is often closer to what the first mover proposed than to the number the other party had in mind,” Mike Hofman says in 5 things never to say while negotiating. “The first number uttered in a negotiation (so long as it is not ridiculous) has the effect of anchoring the conversation.”

3. Be creative

A good negotiator knows that there’s far more to a deal than figures. The ability to be creative with what you ask for can see you achieving a far more lucrative deal than if you’d only spoken in terms of money. Asking for stock options, more holidays, flexible working hours or more training can make it easier for your boss to agree while also adding to the overall value of your salary package.

According to Business Insider, when negotiating pay rises:

“It’s often that politics or organisational structure that comes in the way too. It could be that your boss values your contribution, but is unable to budge on salary due to budget limits, arbitrary standardisation etc. Then, the next question you’ve to ask is: “Are there any other compensation elements that we can discuss?”

4. Be reasonable

There are hard-nosed business people who go in to meetings making demands and refusing to budge. They might get a few wins in the short term, but truly skilled negotiators manage to come to agreements that are mutually beneficial – and therefore more sustainable. Consider all angles when you’re meeting with your boss about a pay increase – using understanding and empathy will get you a long way, and eventually, will see you rewarded for your efforts.

5. Be bold

It’s as brilliant as it is simple – if you don’t ask, you won’t receive. Quite simply, when it comes to negotiating a better salary for yourself, the best card you can play is asking the question in the first place. The worst-case scenario is that your boss turns you down, but at the very least, you’ve made your case and you’re on the radar. And finally, if you do come up against a ‘no’, you can use the reasons given to negotiate next time you have the chance. In negotiation, don’t take a negative personally, it just means you didn’t make your case good enough on that occasion


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