Negotiate your salary with 3 magic words
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
By Victoria Pynchon
Everyone's a shy negotiator. Some people are just better at
hiding their fear. No one likes to be turned down, whether it's by the romantic
interest of your dreams, or the job you really wanted. It's not easy to turn
someone down either, like the potential employee you fear might not be the best
fit for the corporate culture.
My clients have been both bold and hesitant negotiators. But
whether they're an inventor moving a product to market, a lawyer having a
dispute with his business partner, a professional looking for a new
professional home or a hiring partner trying to land the best talent, no one
wants to be rejected. That's the first thing the shy or hesitant negotiator
must understand about her bargaining partner: Your counterpart is just as
worried about letting an opportunity slip through his fingers as you are.
Related: You need a plan, not a Fairy Godmother
That's why we all sometimes need these three magic words: Is
I just got off the phone with a shy client reporting on the
status of her new employment negotiation. I'd told her that if she found
herself unable to counter, she should at least ask whether the offered
compensation was negotiable. And that's precisely what she did.
When the hiring manager said "$200K," she asked
"Is it negotiable?" That's a smart thing to do, because most hiring
managers have more money in their pocket than they put on the table. If the
prospective employee accepts it, the manager just scored one for the team. If
not, he can pull a little of the excess out of his pocket.
One of the solid rules of negotiation is never to negotiate
against yourself. In other words, wait for a counter before you suggest that
you'll take less or pay more. I rarely see this happen with the one holding the
bag of candy, so I was pretty delighted when I got this report.
He: We'd love you to come aboard and I've been authorized to
offer you $200K.
She: Thanks. I'd love to join your shop. But could you tell
me whether that number is negotiable?
He: I can make it $220K, but it would be difficult for me to
go beyond that.
What he really means
He's got more than an additional $20K in his pocket, doesn't
he? Otherwise, he wouldn't say it would be simply "difficult," but
impossible, to go higher. He's also saying the company really, really wants her
to come aboard. Otherwise, he would never have negotiated against himself. At a
minimum, he would have asked a question like "What did you have in
mind?" Instead, he pounced.
There's just about zero chance of being rejected by asking,
"Is it negotiable?" The worst that will happen is the hiring partner
will say "No, it's not." The best that can happen? You'll get a bump
without having to even put a number on the table.
For women, who sometimes have a more difficult time
"asking" than their male peers, "Is it negotiable?" gives
permission to do what is outside their traditional gender role to do — ask for something for themselves.
But when women know something is negotiable, they negotiate for themselves
every bit as effectively as men do.
And that's important for all of us. Because a rising tide
raises all ships and it's way past time to raise the salary-gap ship to sea
litigator and trial attorney, Victoria Pynchon co-founded She Negotiates Consulting and
Training with her business
partner Lisa Gates in 2010. She is the author of The ABCs of Conflict
Resolution and Success as a Mediator
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