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How to negotiate

In the current economic situation it's hard to justify a pay rise. But that doesn't mean there's nothing for you to negotiate on with your employer. For example, instead of more money you could ask for company-paid training or education. That way you can develop your career and your company also benefits from your improved knowledge and skills. 

Here are some tips and tricks to get the best out of any negotiation, whether it's for training, more free time or the possibility to work more from home:

1. Be well prepared

Before you start your negotiations, ask yourself 'What do I want to achieve during this meeting?' Think about what you ideally want, but also decide the minimum you would accept (if you are not allowed to sign up for a University degree, are you prepared to settle for a company training of 4 weeks?) Think before hand about the possible objections from the person you are negotiating with and how you plan to deal with them. Formulate your goals as clearly as possible and point out the benefits for yourself and the company. Don't forget to look at the possibilities for tax deduction in advance!

2. Be realistic
Negotiating is all about givinge and taking; otherwise it wouldn't be called negotiating. You will have to give, to receive something back. In the end all parties have to be satisfied by the results of the negotiation. Setting realistic goals for yourself will protect you from disappointment. Make sure that the training or education you ask for matches your current position and that you will be able to offer benefits to your employer from your new acquired knowledge.

3. Be convinced and empathic
Be convinced of your case and don't take the first 'no' for an answer. But you will have to show empathy as well. A good negotiator combines a powerful, persistent attitude with empathy and flexibility. He or she is creative in coming up with alternatives and can easily bend to changes. Good techniques you can use to persuade the other parties include:

  • Being positive and enthusiastic to constructive proposals from the other parties. This creates an open and positive atmosphere and reduces opposition from the other person. Take your time to negotiate and to think about a proposal. Don't answer questions straight away with a 'yes' or 'no'

  • Be interested in how the other person feels about things you propose, by asking questions like: 'How would you feel about…?' or 'Wwhat would you do if…?'

  • Always point out what the benefits for the company or the other person are and emphasize that you want to work on a solution that suits everybody best.

4. Keep the initiative on your terms
Start the meeting with your goals for the negotiation, but don't lock the discussion by being inflexible. But be clear on where you draw the line. Don't let modesty get the better of you - dare ask for what you want. If you prepared yourself well, you should have enough arguments to win your case. But if the negotiation isn't going well, it's better to sit around the table again later instead of agreeing on something you don't really want.

5. Document the results clearly
It's not uncommon for both parties to differ on what was agreed during the meeting afterwards. That can cause a lot of problems later on. Make sure that you document the conversation clearly by writing down what you agreed on and having everybody sign up on. That will prevent nasty surprises in the future!
Good luck! 

© 2010

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