October 12, 2020
When it comes to negotiating, I sometimes feel like Sophia from the movie, The Color Purple, “All my life I’ve had to fight…”
Whether it’s negotiating a contract, buying a house or going back and forth on getting the best job offer, negotiating can be uncomfortable for many of us. A friend recently reflected on a conversation she had with a company CEO who said, “The one thing women don’t do well is negotiate their salaries.” At that moment, she wished she had been more hardball in her ability to negotiate her salary.
Over the years, I’ve had to negotiate many things. Years ago, I had to negotiate a job promotion from assistant vice president to vice president at a major financial institution. Most of my peers already had the higher title. However, my job as the shareholder communications manager came with a higher risk. For instance, if I communicated the wrong message in quarterly earnings or shareholder updates, it could have impacted the company’s stock performance.
One day someone conducting an industry survey around the financial communications job function asked me to participate. The survey results revealed that I needed both a promotion in title and an increase in salary. Armed with the industry benchmark results as well as my recent accomplishments, I set up a meeting with my manager to discuss my future. The outcome was positive, and I was eventually promoted. Was I nervous? Hell yes! But I put on a confident face and prepared for the meeting. I figured I had nothing to lose. Besides, I had a better chance of getting yes, than no.
A few years later, I was contacted by a headhunter for another position that required me to relocate. It was a great opportunity, but I wasn’t desperate. Once we got to the negotiation point, I began asking for perks that normally didn’t come with the position. However, I received the best advice from a mentor who said, “Get whatever you can before you sign the dotted line.” I made a list of all the “asks” including vacation weeks, bonuses, home purchase, etc. They agreed to everything.
Negotiating a contract, buying a car, shopping at a flea market, all require bargaining skills. In the end, it is all about reaching a beneficial outcome over one or more issues. Below are some key points to successful negotiation:
And finally, never let them see you SWEAT!
“Let Us Never Negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”
–John F. Kennedy