Whether we're starting a new job or aiming for a promotion in our current one, we need to negotiate a salary. Negotiating salaries is a skill we should develop throughout our lives as we’ll be many times in a position that will require it. 

By Mia Kollia
Translated by Alexandros Theodoropoulos

A Salary.com survey revealed that only 37% of people always negotiate their salaries while 18% never do. Even worse, 44% of respondents claim they have never raised the topic of a salary increase during performance reviews. Fear seems to be the most important reason we don't ask for more money. Indeed, salary negotiations can be daunting. But what is even scarier is not doing it at all. So let's learn how to negotiate.  

1. We estimate our worth

If we're going to ask for the pay we deserve, it's important to know where the salaries stand for our position in our industry and geographic area. If we go into a salary negotiation without knowing a few basics, an experienced hiring manager will know right away and the negotiation won't even begin. 

2. We choose the highest possible amount 

As we do our research, we will likely come up with a range that represents our market value. We need to ask for an amount that is towards the top of the scale because it is almost certain that our employer will negotiate downwards. So we need a margin, to end up with a salary that we're happy with.

3. We decide what amount to turn down

When considering our potential salary, we should also find the “breakaway point”—a final offer that is so low that we must reject it. This could be based on our financial needs, our market value or just what we need to feel good. 

4. Making sure we're ready 

Before asking for a raise, it's a good idea to ask ourselves a few questions. How many years/months have been working in this job? Have we taken on new responsibilities since being hired? Have we exceeded expectations (rather than just met them)? The answer to all of these must be yes.

5. We plan the right timing

Right timing is everything. Most employees wait until performance review time to ask for a salary adjustment, but by then, they will likely have already decided what raises will be paid. Thus, it is good to have a negotiation discussion 2-3 months in advance.   

6. We do rehearsals 

We write down what we want to say, we study it, we make some corrections if necessary, we think of possible answers to what we will say and we do as many rehearsals as necessary, until we feel comfortable. 

7. We ask for Thursday meetings 

Usually, we tend to start the week more rigid and… moody, but become more flexible and convenient as the week goes on. "Thursdays and Fridays find us more open to negotiation and compromise because we want to get our work done before the weekend," reports Psychology Today.  

8. Let's drink some coffee 

A study by the global forum European Journal of Social Psychology found that caffeine makes people more resistant to persuasion - which means it will be easier to hold our ground during negotiations.

9. We enter the office with confidence 

The way we enter a space is important. We hold our heads up and smile, emitting a positive aura. If we look stressed and scared, the other party thinks that they will find almost no resistance, no matter what they says to us. 

10. We show what we can do

Before we start talking about numbers, we say what we have done and - most importantly - what we can do. It is good to have printed a copy where we summarise what we have achieved during the year. We can mention specific projects that we have gone beyond our role and have thought about what we would like to undertake in the future - for example an existing project or something new that we can propose.

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11. We focus on the future, not the past

When negotiating salary for a new job, it is not uncommon to be asked about our current salary. We may not like this question, but we don’t have to lie. Instead, we answer honestly and then quickly move the conversation forward to explain the salary we're looking for, focusing on our new skills or responsibilities, the value of our position in the market, and how we'd like to grow.

12. We also put ourselves in the other person's shoes

When we prepare for a negotiation, we also think about the situation from the other party’s perspective. Research by Columbia University psychologist, Adam Galinsky, shows that when we consider the other person's thoughts and interests, we are more likely to find solutions that work well for both of us. 

13. We are positive, not pushy 

During the negotiation we should always keep the conversation in a positive direction. Start the conversation by saying, “I really enjoy working here and my projects are always a challenge. In the last year, I feel that the scope of my work has expanded quite a bit. I believe my role and responsibilities have increased. I would like to discuss with you the possibilities of a salary revision,” advises Forbes.

14. We mention the salary we ask for first

The first number put on the table is the most important in the negotiation, since it is the basis for the rest of the discussion. If it's too low, we'll end up with a lower final bid than we probably want.

15. We do not recommend "range" 

It is good to never use the word "between" when negotiating. In other words, we never mention a range: "I'm thinking of an amount between ... and ... euros", because this suggests that we are willing to step back and the person we are negotiating with will immediately go to the lower number.

16. We prioritise our requests

As part of our conversation, we state everything we are looking for in a ranking order. University of Pennsylvania professor Adam Grant explains to Business Insider: “In a job offer negotiation, you might say, for example, that salary is most important to you, followed by vacation time and signing bonus. Research shows that ranking order is a powerful way to help your peers understand your interests without giving away too much information. Then you can ask them to state their own priorities and make mutually beneficial compromises: both sides win on the issues that are most important to them.”

17. We don't mention personal needs 

We don't focus on our personal needs - like the fact that our rent or children's expenses have increased. These apply to everyone. We show that we are worth more when we focus on our performance and achievements.

18. We listen carefully to what they say to us

Listening to the other party during a negotiation is almost as important as presenting our own request. By really paying attention to what the other person is saying, we can understand their needs and incorporate them into finding a solution that will make both of us happy.

19. We shouldn’t be afraid of 'no'

We may be afraid of rejection, but a negotiation doesn't really start until someone says 'no'. Negotiation is a conversation whose goal is to reach an agreement with someone whose interests are not perfectly aligned with our own. So "no" is just part of the process. 

20. We never threaten 

We want a better salary, not to quit our job, so it is important to maintain a positive conversation. No matter what we say, we're not threatening to leave if we don't get the raise.

21. We look at other options 

If the hiring manager eventually doesn't budge, we try to negotiate other things we care about, such as more flexible working hours, a better job title, or more important projects and assignments.