“Everything is negotiable. Whether or not the negotiation is easy is another thing.” – Carrie Fisher

Are you any good at negotiating?

We all have to negotiate from time to time. In fact we probably do it more often than we realise; negotiating with our partner, spouse or children over household tasks, bedtime, and social arrangements.

If you have children do you ever wonder, as I do, whether they were born being naturally good negotiators or whether society has somehow taught them to develop this skill from an early age? Over the years I have often been amazed at the creative reasoning used by my daughter to very effectively get her own way!

But whether or not you are a good negotiator in your daily life, it is often a different story when you need to negotiate a new role, pay rise, promotion or change of working hours. Many of us find that really hard, and beat ourselves up afterwards for failing to achieve the outcome we’d hoped for.

I recently worked with a client – we’ll call him Mark – who came to me with exactly this issue. He was at final interview stage for a couple of jobs, with the strong likelihood that he’d be offered at least one of them. What a nice position to be in! But Mark was worried as he felt he’d negotiated his starting package badly in his previous two jobs, and he didn’t want to repeat this mistake. He wanted to negotiate a deal which he would later think was a good one, and he asked my advice. What could he do?

The good news is there’s a lot that Mark – and you – can do to help yourself when you’re negotiating. To get you started, here are my 3 top tips for successful negotiations:

Plan – do your homework 

magnifying document1“Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” – JFK

Make sure you have gathered all the facts and figures you will need. I asked Mark to get as much information as he could about the proposed role, job spec and benefit package for each job.

If you’re facing a job negotiation, ask whether there are published salary bands. Then think where you’d expect to sit within the band. This will depend on your experience, and possibly also on qualifications and skills.

Do you know what comparable roles are paid in other organisations – your current or last employer, for example? Do some online research and talk to recruiters or head-hunters too. Thanks to LinkedIn and networking you could also reach out to people already employed in your target organisations.

Gather all the facts and figures you need and make sure you’re familiar with them before your negotiation begins.

Prioritise – know what really matters to you

first things first“My father said: ”You must never try to make all the money that’s in a deal. Let the other fellow make some money too, because if you have a reputation for always making all the money, you won’t have many deals.” J. Paul Getty

Mark is a keen sportsman, so it’s really important for him that he can get to his training sessions every week. He would prefer to have flexibility in working hours, and be able to work from home occasionally, rather than maximise his pay or get a particular benefit.

But what about you? Before you start negotiating, think about what really matters to you.

If you are changing jobs, are you leaving to get a higher salary, a more responsible role or different day to day job content? Do you need to maximise income to support your own lifestyle or that of your family? Or would you be prepared to take a slightly less well-paid job in an organisation that operates in a field you want to get into, or in a not for profit that services a need that speaks to you?

Where are you prepared to compromise, and what’s non-negotiable? Write these points out if you need to, to make sure they are front of mind.

Prepare – adopt the right mindset

positive mindset1“When the final result is expected to be a compromise, it is often prudent to start from an extreme position.”  ― John Maynard Keynes

Once you’ve done all your homework and planning, remember to leave time to get into the right mindset on the day. Think about how you want to come across – ideally confident but not arrogant.

Many of us find it really hard to negotiate a good deal for ourselves, but we would move mountains on behalf of those we love. So imagine you are negotiating for your child, or an elderly or sick relative. What would you ask for on their behalf?

If – like Mark – you are haunted by bad negotiating experiences – think about some other types of negotiation where you’ve been successful in the past. Try and bring the confidence and positive attitude you gleaned from these occasions into your mind-set for the discussions ahead.

When have you been successful and proud of how you handled a discussion? Take that attitude into your next negotiation, and imagine you are doing it for someone else that you care about.

Now you can apply your new negotiation skills everywhere!

“Never forget the power of silence, that massively disconcerting pause which goes on and on and may at last induce an opponent to babble and backtrack nervously.” – Lance Morrow

These 3 P’s will serve you well whatever kind of negotiation you are facing. Yes they work well in job negotiations, but they are equally valuable if you are selling a house, buying a car, complaining to a retailer or supplier, taking on a project, hiring a supplier – or planning the family holiday!

If you would like help with negotiating a path through a tricky situation or stage in your career, do get in touch. I have a six-step process to guide you through to a successful and satisfying outcome. And I’d be delighted to share it with you.

Have you used the 3 P’s and felt good about your negotiation outcome – let me know!