How to Ask For a Pay Raise: The Psychology behind the negotiating strategy

By · Monday, September 30th, 2013

Let me explain some of the psychology behind the negotiating strategy I have described in this series of tips.  The reason you try to get your employer to make the first offer is to see where the firm stands and to determine how far off they are from your goal.  It gives you more control, and knowledge is power.  Sometimes a boss will give a very reasonable first offer and you can avoid the hassle of going back and forth.  (Nonetheless, it is always best to avoid immediately accepting an offer.  Ask to go home and think it over.  It is always tough to think through all your options while in the hot seat.)  In most cases, however, your boss’s first offer will not be reasonable, and you will need to start the negotiating process by asking for an unrealistically high amount.  By doing so, you give yourself breathing room to come down.

If instead you were to immediately ask for the exact salary you wanted, your boss would, in all likelihood, chop you down from there as part of his negotiating strategy.  Ask for more than you think is reasonable in order to negotiate down to a more realistic level.  Of course, if you start off with an absolutely ridiculous number, you will lose credibility.  You reduce this risk by having your boss make the first offer.  As I mentioned earlier, you want to offer an uncomfortable high number.  There is an art to choosing the number. Picking an uncomfortably high number for both you and your boss is recommended.  But, that is different from a totally ridiculous number.  Now here is some more of the art part to negotiating.  If your added value is such that your salary should be 5 times what it is now then go for it, because you can justify it.  If we work together this is something that I help you determine.

All negotiations do not proceed like the example in these tips. There are endless numbers of variables, choices, and alternatives attached to each.  With each twist, turn and decision that arises, the process becomes more difficult and it becomes easier to make mistakes.  As I mentioned in a previous tip, there is an art and science to negotiating.   The reason that I know how to respond during negotiations is that I’ve been part of them hundreds of times.  Art and math co-mingle in negotiations. Negotiation is not all numbers, it is strategy too.

What I have learned from the hundreds of successful salary increases I have negotiated is that while each situation is unique, the principles and guidelines of negotiation remain pretty much the same.  For example, in a negotiation, both sides must be willing to compromise.  Is that always the case?  No. Sometimes one party is obstinate and won’t budge.  That tells you a lot about the other side.  Which means then you can navigate your career down a different path.

You can win under almost any circumstance.  Yes, you can win even if it appears that you lost.  If you don’t get a raise you may have learned something that you are not doing at work and decide to work on improving that.  Or, you learned to get the heck out and find a better job and boss.  Remember that you need to support your career and not be held back by anyone job.

When you give something up, make sure you get something in return.  And, if both parties are unwilling to compromise, a stalemate will develop.  In that case, you will have to decide whether to stay where you are, working for an inadequate salary, or look for a higher paying position outside your firm.  If you add value, solve problems, help others, then you’ll never starve.  Companies want people like that.  Wouldn’t you if you owned a company?

The heart of these processes is all the nuances that pop up along the way.  You are dealing with another human and therefore you can never know what you can expect.  Humans are not machines.  Each person can react differently to the same stimuli.  Therefore, you need to know how to adjust your presentation with what transpires in the negotiation meeting.  This again is a large reason why many of you will want to be coached by someone skilled in pay raise negotiations like myself.  I help you navigate all the nuances that come up in the actual negotiation process.

What are some of the zigs and zags of negotiation that you have experienced?  Share here:



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