Negotiation between people is inevitable by nature. Consciously or not, we negotiate as a part of our daily life. In more professional terms, people usually negotiate in an attempt to settle differences and to avoid further conflicts.
Generally, negotiations are far more formal when it comes to workplaces and other business related matters. Within companies, negotiations commonly occur between employees and colleagues, or anyone of greater rank or status, such as employers.
In any case, it is very important to be well prepared because your employer has the power to shape your future within the company.
Whether it’s a raise, job promotion, better working conditions or just a new coffee machine, employees often have to negotiate with their employers. Employees may often find it challenging to bring up such matters at work.
Why Employees Hesitate
Employees are all different, and how valuable they are for the company partly depends on their skill level and various talents. Highly talented professionals are usually in stronger bargaining positions than others. This goes both for potential employees as well as existing ones.
However, far too many employees accept independent decisions made by their employers about matters concerning themselves. Employees might be afraid of ending up in a position of negotiation with their employers, so they often simply play along.
Employees should keep in mind that negotiations don’t actually start until someone says “no” or if they clearly disagree with their employer. The issue is that employees, and people in general, are often too afraid of rejection. Instead of seeking what they want, they tend to give in or do not speak up at all.
If you are convinced that you deserve a job promotion, a higher salary, better working conditions, or anything else job related, you will likely have to ask for it. Sometimes you even have to fight for it, and that means going the extra mile in order to reach what you really want.
Bottom line, if employees want to go beyond a “no”, they have to be able to negotiate, which means that they need to know how to negotiate and be prepared.
Attributes Required to Negotiate Effectively
Firstly, being able to identify problems, analyse problems, and then act upon them appropriately is a great attribute for negotiating. But that’s not enough.
A good negotiator also knows that proper preparation is a fundamental step in the negotiation process. The amount of time spent on preparation will be reflected in how desirable the outcome is. Preparation includes, for instance, setting goals and alternatives for desired or preferred outcomes, carrying out research, gathering relevant information, and getting to know all aspects of the topic or subject.
A combination of good communication skills and interpersonal attributes is likely to result in a much easier negotiation process for the employee. It’s vital to respect and listen carefully to what the counterpart brings to the table. By doing so, the likelihood of finding a common ground as an outcome will increase.
Sometimes, it’s simply more effective to find a common ground which is mutually beneficial for your counterpart, rather than narrow-mindedly fight for your initial goal. In addition, a strong reputation and a stable relationship with colleagues or the employer is a much likelier outcome if you practice fair play.
Tips On How to Negotiate With Employers
For some people, negotiation comes naturally. They need to put little or no effort into the negotiation process in order to succeed, compared to others.
Sooner or later, you will find yourself negotiating with your employer. It may not be your first time, but nonetheless it’s extremely important to be well prepared.
The following tips will help you improve your negotiation skills, which will increase your chances of reaching your desired outcome.
Preparation is the most vital part of negotiation. The more time you spend on preparing your case, the more chances you have of reaching your desired or prefered outcome.
Aim high. By aiming high, you will establish an anchor which is likely to have an affect on the rest of the negotiations. It will also put you in a better negotiation position, especially if you take the initiative by starting the discussion and setting the tone.
Set your limit by deciding both the deal maker and breaker. If you know exactly what your limits are prior to the negotiations, you are less likely to be walking away with something you are unhappy with. Prepare your argument based on what gives you the leverage to set these boundaries.
Be humble towards your counterpart at all times. Listen carefully to what they have to say and what they bring to the table. It may indicate their deal boundaries which may be of a great value for you to work with. Negotiate with respect and take into account your future relationships.
Be fearless and ready to walk away if necessary, because that will show that you have alternatives. Make sure not to show your emotions, as it will only show weakness.
Kristofer Pall Lentz is a business marketing enthusiast, currently working for Market-Inspector.co.uk, a B2B marketplace for businesses and institutions in Europe. He is also taking his master’s degree in Strategic Market Creation at Copenhagen Business School.