You negotiate many times a day. Whether it’s a discussion with your partner as to who’s collecting the children from school, or a discussion with a work colleague about how to solve a problem.
When a negotiation doesn’t go well the impact on you can be huge.
For example, if you are moving into a new role and you don’t negotiate your salary package effectively you’ll end up getting paid less than what you are worth. The gender pay gap statistics aren’t pretty. The Workplace Gender Equality Agency puts the gap at around 17% – a figure that hasn’t moved much (up or down) over the last 20 years.
And while the gap is influenced by multiple factors, in every single industry the pay gap favours men. So it’s critical to have the confidence and skills to ask for what you want.
Here are five core practices you can use every day, and also apply for pay negotiations.
Ready your mindset
Negotiating is mentally taxing. Your mind will be pushed and pulled in many directions. It’s important to understand the mindset you are adopting, and how you are likely to think, feel and react throughout the process. If you go in with the perspective – “I’m right. They’re wrong”, and are not willing to find common ground, you’re unlikely to make good progress. It is much more productive to approach the negotiation from a basis of mutual respect and a willingness to consider different ideas and options.
Know your end game
Know what you want from the negotiation, and don’t be afraid to ask for it. It can be a case of ‘don’t ask – don’t get’. So be deliberate about your needs and when you ask. Timing can be crucial, as a negotiation’s starting position can anchor the remainder of the conversation. This involves understanding the subject matter in detail and the potential options. Know how your proposal could satisfy the other person’s needs, and where your boundaries and priorities lie. Additionally, be clear on your non-negotiables and what you are willing to give up.
Think about how the negotiation process will unfold, and the steps required to secure agreement. Consider each of these steps, in advance of the discussion, and be curious as to how they may play out. Running through possible scenarios and outcomes will enable you to better respond as issues or objections are raised during the discussion. Importantly, seek to understand the other people involved – their operating style, agenda, needs and what they care about. Be interested in them and their perspectives and ideas. The more you understand those involved, the greater insights you’ll have into what they are likely to support or reject.
Build relationships early
Negotiating effectively is much easier if you have a good relationship with the other people involved. So build your network early and always take the long term view. You want both parties to the negotiation to walk away from the process with their dignity intact and feeling as though they have done well. If someone feels ill-treated through a negotiation, even if an agreement has been reached, there will be longer term ramifications.
Negotiations often take unexpected turns, and it’s very easy for the situation to escalate. You want to be able to respond mindfully, rather than reactively. So, don’t negotiate when you are tired, and if you find your mind racing focus on breathing, and breathing deeply. This provides time for your nerves to relax and your heart rate to slow down, making it easier to reflect and respond calmly.