Contract and salary negotiations make a lot of us uncomfortable, to the point that we often sign the first deal we’re offered. Some of us never negotiate the terms of our employment at all. (Guilty as charged.)
But we live in a world that isn’t fair. In most instances, if we don’t ask, we don’t get. Here’s how to get past that fear and put yourself in the best position possible, whether you’re negotiating a job offer, raise, or higher fee for your services.
Understand positional and integrative negotiation
According to Alex LoCasto, an attorney who focuses on on business litigation and dispute resolution, most negotiations fall into two categories. She explains, “There are two types of negotiation: distributive, aka positional, and integrative, aka interest-based. Positional is a win-lose mentality–there is one pizza, and we are splitting it. Interest-based is a win-win mentality–there is one pizza, and we are enlarging it. People tend to engage in positional negotiation, especially if they are on opposite sides of an issue. However, using an interest-based approach increases the chance of success for both sides.”
The key in interest-based negotiation is identifying the other side’s interests. For example, two little girls are fighting over an orange. If their mom cuts the orange in half and gives half to each little girl, she would be using a distributive approach. But the mom decides to ask each little girl why she wants the whole orange. Girl A tells the mom that she just loves oranges and she wants to eat it. Girl B says she wants the orange peel to use in baking some cookies. The mom gives the whole orange to Girl A, Girl B gets the whole orange peel, and both girls are happy.
By simply asking the girls why they wanted the orange, the mom was able to ascertain each girl’s respective interests and realize that their interests did not conflict.
Look beyond the salary number
Remember, not all negotiation is money. When you receive a job offer, think about other factors like working from home or public relations support–such as having your company pitch speaking opportunities on your behalf. If your salary didn’t hit the range you wanted, ask if there is room for commission or benchmarks you can hit to receive bonuses along the way.
When you start a new job, you should also make sure that your contract includes the ability to negotiate your salary after six months. This is enough time to prove your value to the company. Make sure that you and your employer have clear expectations of what you need to do to get to the next level. This means outlining your KPIs and any metrics that you need to meet in writing.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
This isn’t exactly part of your contract negotiation, but to get the best deal for yourself, you have to make a deal with yourself: Trust in your value.
Your value is multifaceted. There is the value you bring a company and the amount you save a company. When you come to the negotiating table, you should be able to understand both. For starters, creatives highly undervalue their work. If you are someone who gets paid to produce creative output, you need to double your price. No company can survive without ideas.
But also, if you don’t have the answer, don’t be afraid to ask questions. You don’t have to fake it till you make it–you have to deliver. A lot of times, that means you won’t have the answer. Meeting expectations starts with understanding what you’re offering.
If you hear yourself saying, “No, I think I understand everything,” it’s a clear sign that you don’t. Asking the right questions in both an interview and a review meeting is crucial. Would you go to lunch with a friend and not have any questions? Of course not. It would appear as if you weren’t paying close enough attention to have any questions.
Remember, your value doesn’t diminish when you ask questions. In fact, you make yourself less valuable by not asking. The more you know, the more you can make. Now go and get that raise you deserve.
This article was adapted from Work Party: How To Create & Cultivate The Career Of Your Dreams by Jaclyn Johnson. Copyright 208 by Create & Cultivate, LLC. It is reprinted with permission by Gallery Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.