“How do I negotiate a better salary?”

‘’You are not rational; there is no such thing as ‘fair’; compromise is the worst thing you can do.’’

In the just released book ‘Never Split The Difference’, former FBI lead international kidnapping negotiator Chris Voss breaks down these strategies so that anyone can use them in the workplace, in business, or at home.

After retiring from the FBI in 2007, Voss founded ‘The Black Swan Group’, a company that solves business negotiation challenges with hostage negotiation strategies and worked around the world with everyone from CEO’s to their managers and everyday workers. It’s not surprising, that one of the most popular questions was ‘How do I negotiate a better salary?’

Here is Chris Voss field-tested advice that will give you the competitive edge in salary negotiation:

The No. 1 rule in any negotiation is don’t take yourself hostage. People do this to themselves all the time by being desperate for “yes” or afraid of “no”, so they don’t ask for what they really want. Instead, they ask for what they can realistically get. I’ve heard many people say, “Well that’s a non-starter so we won’t even bring it up.” By doing so, they’ve taken themselves hostage. Their counterpart has already won.

Another way people hold themselves hostage is by entering a negotiation with a list of “must-haves” and “giveaways”. Why decide what you can “give away” without finding out what the other side wants most of all and what they are happy to let go? Perhaps what you are willing to “give away” is what they want most of all, and what they would have negotiated for.

When it comes to salary negotiation, don’t forget that salary is only one term of employment. What else is on the table – vacation time, benefits, bonuses, flex days? Before determining that these terms are “must-haves” or “giveaways” to get a bigger salary, find out what the counterpart has to offer. To find out what might be on or off the table, ask an open-ended question such as: “What sort of options do you have with the benefits package? It seems like there’s some flexibility there.”

The second critical tactic in salary negotiation lies with two easy words: “What” and “how”:What does it take to be successful here?” and “How can I be involved in projects critical to the strategic future of the company?”

Remember: salary only pays your bills; it doesn’t guarantee your future. Before you begin putting a price tag on yourself (or anything), you have to begin establishing value.

The rule is not necessarily: “He/she who names a price first loses”, but rather that anyone who quotes a price without having any idea of their value is flying blind.

When you ask “What does it take to be successful here?” you must listen for the answer. Paraphrase it back to show you got it right. What you want to hear before moving on is “that’s right.”

By asking a performance-based question, you show engagement in the success of the company, rather just on your own financial gain. When you ask “How can I be involved in projects critical to the strategic future of the company?” you are really asking how you will add to the company’s value. One of the greatest things you can do to establish value with your future co-workers is to genuinely position yourself as being committed to their future prosperity.

In every negotiation, your counterpart, on some level, is asking himself or herself “What’s in this for me?” Hostage negotiators know the most critical element to talking a hostage taker into surrendering is to engage with their vision of the future. That’s why every hostage negotiator says as clearly as they can “I’m here to make sure everyone stays safe.” If you can establish a link between their vision of the future and your goals, you have a chance at victory.

Establishing your value to your current or prospective employer in this manner makes you much more valuable and makes it easier for them to pay you well. You’ll be worth it. Negotiating it upfront raises your opportunity for success.


(via ‘BookWatch’ @ marketwatch.com)

Don’t take yourself hostage when asking for more money

chris voss

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