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Negotiation is a Muscle - Work It

 
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Many people think of negotiation as a painful step they wish they could just skip in the job offer process.  In reality we negotiate in big and small ways all the time, in all parts of our lives, as we try to create better outcomes when choosing between differing positions.  Negotiating well is empowering, and will leave you feeling valued and respected.  Here are four key elements to focus on to build your negotiation muscle:

Figure out your must-haves vs. wants vs. nice-to-haves  Being clear on what is really important to you will help you organize the conversations appropriately.  Invest time here - knowing the what and why of your priorities is a great way to demonstrate strategic thinking and professional maturity.  Also remember this may not be a 1:1:1 relationship.  Getting 3 nice to haves may outweigh 1 want.  Trust your gut on those.

Do your research Whether the negotiation is for a new job, a new role at an existing job, or a new internal role, gather other example expectations, rewards and benefits.  This will give you a well-rounded baseline to work from when discussing your new responsibilities and how you will be recognized and compensated for them.

Keep your eye on the money So many people start with something along the lines of "The money isn't important to me, it's the opportunity."  You've just given away a huge piece of negotiating power.  If you want to give on the money later, that is fine, but don't negotiate against yourself before you even get started with the other party.  Also remember that your salary sets the baseline for each next step in your career, especially when raises are typically 2-4% per year.  You should be paid well for your good work.

Practice makes perfect  Starting with smaller negotiations will help you feel more comfortable when it's time for bigger ones.  There is a rhythm that develops within the back and forth discussions, and you want to go slowly enough to get a feel for how the company responds to each of your key needs.  Working with a coach to understand how to pace the conversations - and remember, there will be several - will pay off in spades.

 
Michelle Bogan