Setting Yourself Up for Success in a Negotiation

I presented at the Women’s Global Leadership Conference in Energy & Technology in Houston. The topic was How to successfully negotiate for a raise—How to get past your dread, develop a win/win approach, and negotiate for what you want.

In this article, I have broadened my comments from what I presented there to apply to a variety of career situations—where you might be negotiating a pay raise, a high profile assignment or key role, or for something else you really want.

There are tons of articles about negotiating and the best way to approach it. So, rather than try to cover all that territory, I want to share two things that are mentioned less often but have a huge impact on your success.

Create the Right Perception.

One of the things I coach and do workshops on is Getting the Visibility You Want, which is all about strategically informing others and giving more visibility to your skills and contributions. Take some time to think about who needs to understand how you are adding value and who will influence the ultimate decision about whether to give you what you are asking for. If you don’t know already, find out what their perception of your performance is today and where you may need to close some gaps.

Let me be clear, this is not about creating a false image. It is about proactively helping others understand your value and helping them understand how to best leverage your skills and talent. We all know this doesn’t happen overnight, so allow enough time to close any gaps in perception.

Also, remember that how you “show up” in the conversation where you ask for what you want matters. So, think about how you want to be viewed or perceived in the negotiation. For example you might want to be seen as confident, reasonable, committed to the company’s success, and looking for a win/win for you and the company. Whatever it may be, think about how to frame up the conversation to reinforce that image.

Understand How You Will Get in Your Own Way.

Many of us have fears or anxiety about negotiating or asking for what we want. So, think about how you might get in your own way in advance. It could be a belief or concern that keeps you from asking for what you want. For example, I have a client who was really concerned that she would be viewed as greedy because she was already paid well, even though the data showed that she was clearly underpaid relative to others at her level.

Another client who was asking for a nontraditional role feared the worst, that they would just say, “We can’t give you what you want. Just leave if you’re not happy.” Test these beliefs by looking for confirming and disconfirming evidence. More often than not, our own fears are the biggest barrier to getting what we want.

In both of the examples above, I worked with my clients to identify their mental roadblocks and how they might react in the face of resistance, and develop strategies to keep both from getting in their way. I am excited to say that both of my clients got everything they asked for.

There are so many things I could have covered in this article, and so much I still want to share with you. For now, think about how you can start applying these two concepts, whether you are asking for something big or small.