Salary negotiating is not near the top of most people’s fun list. Negotiating a new salary can often loom in your mind as something outside your usual experience, thus making it uncomfortable and intimidating. But when you think harder about it, negotiating is something you actually do all the time at work, with your kids, our spouse, friends or even yourself. The good news is that the specific interaction, salary negotiation, can improve with practice and experience.
You Negotiate Every Day
Though you may not negotiate your salary often, you negotiate other all the time. In fact, you negotiate every time you settle a difference or compromise. You want Italian, your spouse wants Thai, and you settle on Thai tonight, Italian tomorrow. Your boss wants the whole feature-set in this outgoing version, but you just lost an engineer, so you and she agree on the most crucial features for now and save others for future versions. You want to read, your spouse wants to watch Netflix, so you read with earplugs while your spouse watches TV. Your coworker wants you to take on something new, but your plate is full, so you and he agree on the job’s importance.
The point is that you negotiate all the time, and with better results than you give yourself credit for. If you think of salary negotiations as a specific type of negotiation, an unusual case of something you do often, you’ll be more confident than if you think of them as something totally new for you.
Once you realize you have negotiation skills, the way to negotiate your salary is exactly the same way you get good at anything else: practice. Everyone agrees playing the flute or dribbling a ball or making crème brulee from scratch improves with practice, but though almost everyone wants to get better at salary negotiation, almost no one practices for it. Here’s how you do it.
Collect the Facts
First, assemble your data. Know the range of what other people in your company and in your industry get paid for your job: Your Worth Salary Calculators and other free salary calculators can help you out here. Enter some basic facts about your work skills, industry and background and you’ll see a low, medium and high average that you can expect to be paid based on US labor statistics.
Second, imagine your encounter with your boss. Visualize how you will ask for and justify your new salary, and write down the expected counterproposals from your boss or management. Practice in front of a mirror, and speak out loud to get used to hearing the sound of your own voice proposing and supporting your new salary.
Third, role-play the scenarios you just imagined. Ideally you should do this both with someone you know well at your company and with someone you know well who doesn’t work there. It’s tempting to skip this step, but don’t: having someone else hear you, describe what they are hearing, and speak in your boss’s voice will help you prepare for the actual interaction better than anything else. Offer to do the same for your two friends, and you will learn a great deal about your own negotiation from that as well. When you’re actually in the negotiation, you’ll do better because you have done it before. Good luck!
About the Author
Justin Ethington is a freelance business writer specializing in Human Resources, tech, labor trends and employment. He is the founder of Fame Tag and Volt Marketing. He is the owner of Your Worth free salary calculator (www.