We can sometimes be guilty of making incorrect assumptions about people, organisations and situations. Ensure any assumptions you may have are checked out and justified before you enter into a negotiation with your current or prospective employer. Common assumptions range from benefits you believe to be offered to staff at the company to salaries of other staff members or perks they are receiving.
Having an alternative/s is essential in any salary negotiation process.
It is important to have high aspirations; however, this needs to also be balanced against the reality of the situation. Indeed, in the salary negotiation process all your requirements may be met, none may be met or some may be met. It is important to know at which point you are willing to walk away from a negotiation, and/or to have alternatives in place.
If you are working with an existing employer and requesting a salary increase, have you thought about your alternatives should this be unsuccessful? In these situations people generally leave fairly quickly; have you already started speaking with other potential employers before the meeting is arranged or are you left hanging?
In the instance of being offered a new job, should the salary package not meet your requirements, do you have other offers available to you? Is it such a great opportunity that has a long-term financial gain that you should reconsider that the shorter term salary package is not exactly what you were after?
Anticipate any problems or objections
There is a lot to be said for being positive and optimistic, however it is also important to be realistic. When entering into any salary negotiation process be sure to look at your best and worst case scenarios, and prepare for how to respond to any objections or problems you can see arising.
If you think you're long overdue for a salary increase, yet your current employer is not in a strong financial position at present (and you want to stay with them), you still have negotiation power. You could ask for the same pay and shorter working hours or for a salary increase to be effective when the company goes back to X amount of profit. Alternatively, you may look at options or equity if this is something available.
It is recommended that you prepare a list of ‘what if?’ questions before you enter the negotiation.
Watch your language
In the salary negotiation context you are there to achieve a result for you – therefore using powerful and active language is crucial.
Passive sentences such as those below are to be avoided.
"Would you mind if?"
"Sorry, however I was wondering?"
"If you have a moment, would it be okay?"
Use active sentences like those below to raise the topic, set the meeting time and enter into the salary negotiation discussion.
"I would like to discuss X with you today"
"Let's make a time now to…"
"I require 30 minutes of your time today. When are you free?"