5 tips on how to negotiate

In their book, Women Don’t Ask, Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever outline dozens of studies that demonstrate how women are reluctant to negotiate. Women often think the first offer is the only option available, whereas men are more likely to speak up and ask for more. This approach can be identified when going for promotions, being considered for exciting projects, and applying for new roles — it’s not limited to salary negotiation.

At the GeekGirl Meetup UK event in May, we heard some amazing tips on how to negotiate and this post looks at 5 key lessons to take note of:

  1. Prepare Prepare Prepare
  2. It’s not all about you
  3. Know your end game
  4. Remember the power of saying nothing at all
  5. Don’t be afraid to say no

1. Prepare Prepare Prepare

Negotiating can be regarded as an uncomfortable situation; full of conflict, hard bargaining and a fight to the bloody death until one side arises victorious with everything they ever wanted!!! OK, maybe not quite that dramatic.

But for a number of people, the fear of asking for more and being seen as ungrateful or demanding can be enough to put someone off even thinking about negotiating. Especially in the situation where you’ve just been given a job offer — the last thing you want to do is come across as unappreciative to a potential new employer.

However, the best way to make the process of negotiating less daunting is to is prepare, prepare, prepare. Gather as much information and data as possible that will help build your case and strengthen your argument.

For example, if you’re asking for a pay rise, make sure you can articulate your achievements and exactly why you deserve the pay rise — metrics are your best friend in negotiating! Prove your value.

You will feel more confident going into battle if you know you have strong evidence to back up your reason for negotiating and why you deserve to win.

2. It’s not all about you

This may seem like a strange tip considering the theme of this blog is to help you become a better negotiator, but you can’t do that without understanding the interest of the other party.

When preparing to negotiate, put yourself in your opponent’s shoes and think of the situation from their perspective. Consider what their current challenges and hurdles might be and how your negotiation strategy can include something that will be a positive for them.

For example, I recently renegotiated a decrease in the rent for my flat. The market rate has dropped, due to uncertainty in the economy, and this coupled with the fact that I’ve been such a great tenant over the last three years and kept the flat in great condition meant that I felt like I deserved the rent to be brought down.

After the landlord said no (a few times) to this line of reasoning, I asked him “Given the uncertainty in the market at the moment, if I left tomorrow what would you advertise the rent for the flat to be?” He told me that he would probably leave it unrented until the market picked up. I suggested that it was probably more logical to give me a reduction in rent, not give up any revenue on the flat and keep a tidy and reliable tenant, in these unreliable times.

In the end the landlord met me 80% of the way between my current rent and the decrease I was proposing — in my favour! Being able to understand the proposed negotiation from all perspectives enabled me to help us come to a solution that worked well for everyone.

3. Know your end game

When you decide you want to start the negotiation process and after you’ve done all your research, make sure you know your end game. What do you really want to achieve out of this process?

Don’t be afraid to aim high, but also be realistic.

Most parties will have some wriggle room, you just need to find out what it is by being clear and listening carefully. Clarify exactly what your terms are early on so everyone is on the same page.

Know what you’re prepared to concede on and the lowest offer you’re prepared to accept. Once you’ve got a clear idea of what this is and you understand the areas each party is willing to compromise on, try to seek a win-win solution wherever possible.

4. Remember the power of saying nothing at all

Often, when someone is not a confident negotiator they will talk their own argument down without the opponent even lifting a finger! So, remember the power of silence.

For example, if you have been offered a new job and the salary offered is £53,000 but you want £60,000 you say you appreciate the offer but you’re looking for £60,000.

Then stop talking. [Literally put your hands over your mouth!]

Don’t say “I appreciate the offer but I’m really looking for £60,000, but I’d probably accept £55,000 if you can stretch to that…”

Just be quiet and wait for a response. Let them squirm in the uncomfortable silence. Trust me, more often than not the opponent will start to show their wiggle room.

5. Don’t be afraid to say no

Along with preparing all the information and data for the negotiating process, you also need to be prepared to potentially say no to an offer.

Sometimes the offer you’ve been given is the best offer the opponent can give. Sometimes your opponent isn’t willing to move on their wiggle room and neither are you. Sometimes it’s just not meant to be.

But that’s OK! As long as you know your end game and what’s most important to you, rejecting an offer will allow you to move on and focus your energy on the next opportunity.

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Katie-Mai Kong manages People, Culture and Talent at Hubbub, and is part of GeekGirl Meetup UK and Crack+Cider.

You can find Katie-Mai on Twitter, LinkedIn or at www.katie-mai.com.