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Once upon a time, I was conditioned to believe that negotiation was a bitter conversation between two or more parties over a valuable property. I learned this lesson after watching countless hours of the '80s hit drama L.A. Law, in which everyone seemed to be negotiating anything with such emotion and anger.
When I got to work, I quickly learned the difference between my expectation and the reality of self-advocacy. After taking a job in a mid-sized boutique law firm in New York City despite being severely underpaid, I thought if I worked hard the first year, "someone" would notice my contribution to the firm and raise my salary – and I was wrong. In essence, I was scared of starting a difficult conversation that I found controversial and continued to suffer from increasing pressure from the most recently hired, least paid, and most skilled.
Finally, as the pressure built up, there was a sudden boil when I was asked to work as a “team effort” on weekends without pay to prepare for a trial. In an impulse movement I quickly said no when asked. When I was asked "… and why not?" It was the foundation on which to take a breath and start the difficult conversation about my worth that I had avoided since my tenure began.
Related: 8 Negotiating Tactics Every Successful Business Owner Masteres
Communication is what counts
There are numerous books, articles, and podcasts on the subject of negotiation, but nothing affects the outcome of the transaction as much as clear and effective communication that is not emotional and factual. It is a difficult skill to achieve and requires consistent repetition and less rehearsal. The most important factor to remember is learning how to articulate your own worth as you become an asset rather than a liability.
Here are three communication strategies you can use to win at the negotiating table
1. Present your facts.
I refer to this as your unique value position. It forms the basis for the conversation and allows you to articulate the factors that make you an asset to the company / promotion / opportunity.
- "During my tenure, I grew revenue 35 percent and closed more than $ 9 million in new business."
- "I have direct access to a vast network of influential global leaders that I can count on to mortgage and market our company."
- “Over the course of six years at this company, I've hired more than 50 new administrative employees and reduced revenue 82 percent by introducing new team support initiatives and upward mobility programs to ensure we hire people from our diverse talent backgrounds -Pool."
You should prepare at least three very specific points, each of which highlights the proven value you have added as well as increases in performance, sales, sales, momentum, etc. Presenting your unique worth upfront will keep the conversation from focusing on budget and allowing the other party to consider the potential loss of revenue if you are not contributing to the business.
Remember to mark yourself as an asset.
2. Don't react. React.
No negotiation is complete without some setback, most commonly in relation to compensation. It is always an opportune time for an employer to start the sob story about how "tight" things seem right now or that your contributions are not good enough.
- "But you were late for the Zoom call last week."
- "The sales target was $ 9.5 million, so you missed the $ 9 million mark last quarter."
- "We have lost three new employees in accounting."
Do not react. A reaction is an emotional story that focuses on the characteristics of the person, not the value of their contributions. Decision makers use your emotional response to justify their budget apology by focusing the conversation on your actions rather than your leadership performance.
Take a deep breath and focus on your facts. Continue to mark the future losses that are on the table if your request for an increase in salary / shares / equity is not considered. Instead of responding to minimal criticism, maximize the conversation by refuting it with the potential for depreciation.
3. Set your intentions high.
Never ask for exactly what you need when submitting your request. Better go higher and negotiate your way to the center. During my years of discussing the impact of communication, I've seen reluctance to just ask for more. In fact, many communicate according to their level of comfort, so asking what they know will not be turned down instead of facing tough conversations.
For example, if you are aiming for a 15 percent wage increase, you should ask for 20-25 percent to monetize your topics of conversation and open a fair dialogue. However, if you start at 15 percent, you may be paying Russian roulette with your compensation / equity request.
Related: 6 Steps to Negotiate Right and Get Better Results
Remember that at the negotiating table (or the Zoom meeting) you can only win if you can clearly express your worth. Always present your facts clearly and concisely beforehand to ensure any rebuttal is based on personality rather than performance.