How To Ask For A Pay Raise: The Pschology Behind The Negotiating Strategy

Let me explain some of the psychology behind the negotiating strategy I have described in this series of tips. The reason you try to get your employer to make the first offer is to see where the firm stands and to determine how far off they are from your goal. It gives you more control, and knowledge is power. Sometimes a boss will give a very reasonable first offer and you can avoid the hassle of going back and forth. (Nonetheless, it is always best to avoid immediately accepting an offer. Ask to go home and think it over. It is always tough to think through all your options while in the hot seat.) In most cases, however, your boss’s first offer will not be reasonable, and you will need to start the negotiating process by asking for an unrealistically high amount. By doing so, you give yourself breathing room to come down.

If instead you were to immediately ask for the exact salary you wanted, your boss would, in all likelihood, chop you down from there as part of his negotiating strategy. Ask for more than you think is reasonable in order to negotiate down to a more realistic level. Of course, if you start off with an absolutely ridiculous number, you will lose credibility. You reduce this risk by having your boss make the first offer. As I mentioned earlier, you want to offer an uncomfortable high number. There is an art to choosing the number. Picking an uncomfortably high number for both you and your boss is recommended. But, that is different from a totally ridiculous number. Now here is some more of the art part to negotiating. If your added value is such that your salary should be 5 times what it is now then go for it, because you can justify it. If we work together this is something that I help you determine.

All negotiations do not proceed like the example in these tips. There are endless numbers of variables, choices, and alternatives attached to each. With each twist, turn and decision that arises, the process becomes more difficult and it becomes easier to make mistakes. As I mentioned in a previous tip, there is an art and science to negotiating. The reason that I know how to respond during negotiations is that I’ve been part of them hundreds of times. Art and math co-mingle in negotiations. Negotiation is not all numbers, it is strategy too.

What I have learned from the hundreds of successful salary increases I have negotiated is that while each situation is unique, the principles and guidelines of negotiation remain pretty much the same. For example, in a negotiation, both sides must be willing to compromise. Is that always the case? No. Sometimes one party is obstinate and won’t budge. That tells you a lot about the other side. Which means then you can navigate your career down a different path.

You can win under almost any circumstance. Yes, you can win even if it appears that you lost. If you don’t get a raise you may have learned something that you are not doing at work and decide to work on improving that. Or, you learned to get the heck out and find a better job and boss. Remember that you need to support your career and not be held back by anyone job.

When you give something up, make sure you get something in return. And, if both parties are unwilling to compromise, a stalemate will develop. In that case, you will have to decide whether to stay where you are, working for an inadequate salary, or look for a higher paying position outside your firm. If you add value, solve problems, help others, then you’ll never starve. Companies want people like that. Wouldn’t you if you owned a company?

The heart of these processes is all the nuances that pop up along the way. You are dealing with another human and therefore you can never know what you can expect. Humans are not machines. Each person can react differently to the same stimuli. Therefore, you need to know how to adjust your presentation with what transpires in the negotiation meeting. This again is a large reason why many of you will want to be coached by someone skilled in pay raise negotiations like myself. I help you navigate all the nuances that come up in the actual negotiation process.

Negotiation Success is in the Planning

The drama and theatrics one sees during conflict and confrontations easily leads one to believe that negotiation success lies in persuasiveness, eloquence, and clever maneuvering. What good court room drama would be without these critical factors for entertainment? While these elements may be the enjoyable part for some negotiators, and certainly are the entertaining portions for observers, they are not the keys to negotiation success.

This next quote was so important in “Essentials of Negotiation” by Lewicki, Saunders, Barry, and Minton that the authors italicized it. I point this out because I want you to pay attention to this closely, “The foundation for success in negotiation is not in the game playing or the dramatics. The dominant force for success in negotiation is in the planning that takes place prior to the dialogue.” Yes, the tactics used during negotiations are important, and success is also influenced by how you react to the other side and implement your own negotiation strategy. However, the foundation for success is preparation.

There are many ways one can prepare for negotiation, and no one way will be perfect for everyone. By sharing different strategies, I hope you can absorb what is useful for your negotiation style and decide what planning steps are needed for the negotiations you partake in.

In the “Essentials of Negotiation” the authors set forth ten areas to focus on during effective planning for both distributive and integrative negotiations. I want to briefly share and comment on the ten areas for you to consider:

1. Defining the Issues. Analyze the overall situation and define the issues to be discussed. The more detailed, the better.

2. Assembling the Issues and Defining the Bargaining Mix. Assemble the issues that have been defined into a comprehensive list. The combination of lists from each side of the negotiation determines the bargaining mix. Large bargaining mixes allow for many possible components and arrangements for settlement. However, large bargaining mixes can also lengthen negotiations because of the many possible combinations to consider. Therefore, the issues must be prioritized.

3. Defining Your Interests. After you have defined the issues, you should define the underlying interests and needs. Remember, positions are what a negotiator wants. Interests are why you want them. Asking “why” questions will help define interests.

4. Knowing Your Limits and Alternatives. Limits are the point where you stop the negotiation rather than continue. Settlements beyond this point are not acceptable. You need to know your walkaway point. Alternatives are other deals you could achieve and still meet your needs. The better alternatives you have, the more power you have during negotiations.

5. Setting Targets and Openings. The target point is where you realistically expect to achieve a settlement. You can determine your target by asking what outcome you would be comfortable with, or at what point would you be satisfied. The opening bid or asking price usually represents the best deal you can hope to achieve. One must be cautious in inflating opening bids to the point where they become self-defeating because they are too unrealistic.

6. Assessing My Constituents. When negotiating in a professional context, there are most likely many constituents to the negotiation. Things to consider include the direct actors, the opposite actors, indirect actors, interested observers, and environmental factors.

7. Analyzing the Other Party. Meeting with the other side allows you to learn what issues are important to them. Things to consider include their current resources, interests, and needs. In addition, consider their objectives, alternatives, negotiation style, authority, and likely strategy and tactics.

8. What Strategy Do I want to Pursue? Most likely you are always determining your strategy, and have been all along the planning stages. However, remember not to confuse strategy with tactics. Determine if your engagement strategy will be Competition (Distributive Bargaining), Collaboration (Integrative Negotiation), or Accommodative Negotiation.

9. How Will I Present the Issues to the Other Party? You should present your case clearly and provide ample supporting facts and arguments. You will also want to refute the other party’s arguments with your own counterarguments. There are many ways to do this, and during your preparation you should determine how best to present your issues.

10. What Protocol Needs to Be Followed in This Negotiation? The elements of protocol or process that should be considered include the agenda, the location of the negotiation, the time period of negotiation, other parties who may be involved in the negotiation, what might be done if the negotiation fails, and how will the parties keep track of what is agreed to? In most cases, it is best to discuss the procedural issues before the major substantive issues are raised.

There are many different planning templates. Each emphasizes different elements in different sequences. These ten areas represent what the authors of “Essentials of Negotiation” believe to be the most important steps in the planning process. There is more to each of these areas than I had space to describe in this column. However, if you consider each of these ten areas during your planning, you will be well prepared for the challenges you will face during negotiations.

Be An Expert in Salary Negotiation

More often than not, the first thing in everyone’s minds when applying for a new job is the amount of compensation being given. Sure loving your job is one thing, but even when you hate your job but if you are getting paid a whole lot, you will definitely stick around. No matter what job you apply for, discover how to be an expert in salary negotiation so you can be sure to get an offer you won’t refuse.

To be an expert in negotiating salary, you need to be able to show what you have to offer the company with your past experiences and expertise. Letting them see why you are right for the position is important so that they can select you among others. Certainly having prior experience and skills in the same field is an added plus because in the end of the day, the employer will consider the one most qualified for the position depending on previous jobs.

Being an expert means that you need to know your worth. Never go into negotiation if you don’t even know if you deserve the job or not. Make sure you know exactly what you should be given for the skills you possess and the amount of work that will be done. Prove to them why you deserve that rate you ask for and besides, being knowledgeable about your field and proper salary will let them see that you know your stuff.

Selling yourself is an important salary negotiation skill, because keep in mind, there are several candidates applying for the job so the employer will hire the best one, which is why you need to outshine all. Salary negotiation experts are excellent at selling themselves with being confident and knowing exactly what they can bring into the company. Make it a point that they see why exactly they should hire you.

Never bring your personal life into the negotiation because salary is given based on your capabilities in accomplishing work. The employer doesn’t want to know about the huge debt you’re in or any other personal matters as these are irrelevant when negotiating and have nothing to do with the job.

These are all great pointers to help you be an expert in salary negotiation. Of course, don’t forget to show enthusiasm for the job as well because if they see that you have a passion for the job, that is another plus.