Do you want to know the one, true secret to a successful negotiation? You do? That makes two of us.
If you’ve been to any local bookstores, you might’ve stumbled upon countless books preaching about the “top-secret tactics negotiators use” or “magic keywords that will swing a negotiation in your favor.” Sadly, there is no secret. Negotiation isn’t a mind control clinic.
While there are tips and tricks you can use to communicate better, you’re prone to making mistakes in the process. People focus too much on what they should do, that they forget to emphasize what they should not do.
Here are some indications that your salary negotiation will not end well.
Using magic tricks.
First off, cut out the secret negotiation tricks. A mainstay on so-called negotiation trick articles is the art of manipulation. Negotiation artists want you to psychologically manipulate your employers so you can get what you want.
The jury is still out on their effectiveness, but as long as your negotiations are hampered by a get-what-you-want mentality, you’re not going anywhere productive.
If you’re not negotiating during your salary negotiation, then you’re doing something wrong. By definition, negotiation involves two or more parties. Saying yes to an offer right off the bat might close you off to better opportunities. Even if the offer is very attractive, you’d do well to review its details with a microscopic eye, especially if it comes with little fine lines that you can’t see at first glance.
At the very least, asking to review your offer will show that you’re both interested and meticulously cognizant of the little details.
“[A CEO friend of mine gets] disappointed when a new prospective employee simply accepts the offer. He wants to see a counter-offer, or a good question about the package or nearly anything that shows the person knows how to respectfully feel out his position,” says negotiation expert and author of Never Split the Difference Chris Voss.
Resorting to lying and deception.
The first step to committing your worst negotiation mistake is to not do your research beforehand. This includes not knowing what you’re worth or how much the company can give. Coming into negotiation talks unarmed is suicide. You leave yourself prone to sweet talking and lying from both sides of the table. Regardless of who deceives the other, the lack of honesty can wreck havoc on your negotiations.
“The single worst thing you can do to damage your prospects of a higher salary is to show [that] you don’t know what you’re worth,” says John L. Miller, who was a hiring manager at Microsoft for fifteen years.
If your recruiters catch on to your lack of knowledge, they can easily strongarm you into a pittance of what you’re actually worth. Ignorance breeds ignorance. Even if the recruiters have no malicious intentions, you’re still prone to miscalculated salaries which will hurt in the long run.
Worse, in your web of ignorance, you might find yourself lying about your own value. If you don’t know what you’re worth, spouting off any guess can constitute a lie.
You might be tempted to give a much higher value, hoping that they’ll take the bait. Absolutely steer clear of this mentality. More than ruining your negotiations when found out, this “tactic” will tell your employers how you are as a worker and as a person. At worst, this will lead the company to never have dealings with you ever again.
Dazzling with numbers.
A salary isn’t just about the money. If you spend all your time mathematically engineering the perfect figure, you’re ignoring valuable elements that make your future workplace a much more enjoyable place to work in.
“People place too much emphasis on the base salary as the most important piece to negotiate. They’re forgetting one very important compensation factor: equity,” says career coach Dandan Zhu. Equity and stock options can spark its own negotiations.
Regardless, its value should not be underestimated. A good compensation package can ensure long-term happiness and longevity in the company. It also shows that you’re (literally and figuratively) invested in the company.
Keep in mind that this is not limited to financial security. Depending on your chosen job, you may also negotiate some non-tangible elements, including vacation leaves, working hours, and progression opportunities.
The art of negotiation cannot be encapsulated into a “one true formula” or a collection of “best-kept secrets.” It’s not all magic tricks. If it was, we would all be living in a utopian dream.
In reality, it’s a conscious discussion between two intelligent individuals about how they can be mutually advantageous for each other. Get it right and both parties go home happy.
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