The one skill that will increase your power and influence in HR

by Hannah Norton13 Jul 2015
As an HR director, it is already likely a fundamental part of your skillset – but it’s also the key to unlocking more money, power and influence in your own career.

That skill is the art of negotiation.

While you’re already likely to have mastered the skill of horizontal negotiation – that is, the negotiation with sub-ordinate staff – have you grasped the concept of vertical negotiation?

Vertical negotiation is the art of communicating with your superiors along lines such as salary increases, work scope and budget increases.

So how can you improve your ability to negotiate vertically?

In an article on negotiation, Forbes magazine paid tribute to Dale Carnegie’s quote in his bestselling book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’: “Even in such technical lines as engineering, about 15% of one’s financial success is due to one’s technical knowledge and about 85% is due to skill in human engineering, to personality and the ability to lead people.”

As an HR director, you are already proficient at the skill of human engineering – also known as the ability to influence yourself and others.

The key is remembering to apply it to your own career.

Josh Masters, author of Why Property Why Now and an expert negotiator – shared some of his secrets to successful negotiation.

Create a third person

According to Masters, it’s important for both parties to separate the inevitable problems that arise during negotiation from the person they are dealing with.

“[This] avoids personality clashes and focuses on solutions rather than [leading to either party] becoming defensive or unreasonable.”

Look for the ‘why’

Determining the reasons behind the other party’s decisions is an invaluable strategy as it gives you the opportunity to create a solution, often in return for what you want.

Avoid getting personal

Playing the blame or reacting negatively will work against you goals, Masters advised.

“Even when something doesn’t go your way, stay calm and be respectful,” he said. “Also, try to avoid thinking the worst of the other party – it will rarely be productive and they could be thinking the same about you.”

Be flexible

Granting flexibility increases the likelihood of the other negotiator giving you what you want.

“If you can decide what you want before you go into the negotiation, as well as the best offer you can make and which terms you can and can’t waver on, you can often give the other party what they want without having to sacrifice your position,” Masters said.

Use ‘if’

“Never give anything up without asking for something in return,” said Masters. “Using ‘if’ is a good way to handle this.”

He gave some examples, including: “If I give you X, then I would like Y,” and “If you can … then I’d be happy to…”

Use silence

This technique can be valuable when the other party is poised for a favourable outcome.

“By remaining silent, you are left with the power to make the next call,” Masters said. “It can also provide time in difficult negotiations for both sides to cool off.”

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