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3 Fundamental Questions For Learning How To Negotiate

“In business as in life, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.” – Chester L Karrass

Ever feel uncomfortable and awkward discussing the salary, more vacation, benefits, and so on? The better way to deal with this feeling is to get into the negotiation mindset. The more confident you are knowing what you want and how to ask for it, the less scary the world becomes.

So, let’s start with a fundamental question: What is negotiation? According to the Business Dictionary: “Bargaining (give and take) process between two or more parties (each with its own aims, needs, and viewpoints) seeking to discover a common ground and reach an agreement to settle a matter of mutual concern or resolve a conflict.” Ok, so why is it important?

I tell my graduate students that by not negotiating their job at the beginning of their career, they’re leaving anywhere between $1 million and $1.5 million on the table in lost earnings over their lifetime

Negotiation is an essential skill in our daily lives and the workplace. It is important because it is the ultimate tool we use to decide on the value of things and distribute resources. It can be the difference of paying $2,000 more on a car or losing a 5% wage increase. As Linda Babcock of Carnegie Mellon University says, “I tell my graduate students that by not negotiating their job at the beginning of their career, they’re leaving anywhere between $1 million and $1.5 million on the table in lost earnings over their lifetime.” Negotiation does not only increase your salary but it also increases your value as an employee in the company. There is a myth that if you negotiate with the employer, you will make a bad impression. But the truth is when you negotiate respectfully, the employer will often have respect for you: it is a sign that you know your value and how to communicate it. As you become more confident in negotiation, you increase your ROI and your people skills.

3 Fundamental Questions

Negotiation is difficult because you are dealing with humans and their feelings. To understand people and their behaviors, you must be able to observe and collect information about the person. This allows you recognize tactics and catch signals that will help you successfully finish the negotiation. That is not easy – this is why we’re going to help you. Let’s start with 3 fundamental questions.

1. What do you want?

Before the interview or meeting, it is important to know what you want to get out of it. Imagine you have an interview this evening, write down all the top priorities that you would like to discuss during the interview. For example, list out your desired location, salary, benefits, position, environment and so on. If you’re able to go a step further, try to prioritize your list. This will help you decide whether to accept or decline the offer.

Visualizing and getting in the mindset of what you want helps you believe in it and gets you more comfortable asking for it. It is also necessary to ask questions because it lets your mind find the answers which will help you feel more control. Moreover, negotiation requires specific asks. You can’t say, “I just want to be happier and get more stuff for my work.” Know what you want and what you’re negotiating for – the more specific they are the easier it is for others to respond to.

2. Why should they negotiate with you?

Negotiating with an employer depends on the value you are offering them in return. You can’t make demands if the employer doesn’t feel like they’re getting a fair deal. Your worth is contingent upon the value you offer. This is where personal brand is key. Personal brand will not only help you influence your audience. Be aware of personal brand: what you stand for, who you are, why you want to negotiate. It also shows the person on the other side of the table you are conscious of yourself, what you can do, and what you want. Check out our other blog articles on how to build personal brand and the steps cultivating your personal brand in the workplace.

3. What are your alternatives?

Always have options. If you don’t, you might walk away with nothing. Negotiation involves a back-and-forth discussion and very often you’ll meet in the middle or come away with not everything you went in wanting. A good negotiator has a plan B which is also known as BATNA (best alternative to negotiated agreement). You wouldn’t depend on one job application if you were looking for a job – you would apply to as many as possible. The lower your options, the lower your odds are. There is a saying: “Hope for the best but prepare for the worst”. Having BATNA showcases your awareness and your commitment to achieve the goal within varied context and the needs of others.


Seerat Shabir

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