What Most People Forget Before Negotiating

Businesspeople in a meeting

Businesspeople in a meeting

Plenty has been written about how to come out ahead in negotiations. But there's a key step that doesn't receive much attention even though it can be the difference between getting what you want and walking away empty-handed.  

That "missing link" in the negotiations process is preparing for how you might get in your own way.

Asking for what you want can trigger fears or anxieties that work against you when you're negotiating. That's why it's worth taking time before your next negotiation to think about how you've reacted during similar situations in the past.

When someone pushes back during a negotiation, how do you typically respond? Some people sabotage themselves by backing down immediately. Others react too quickly, immediately firing back with counteroffers when they'd be better served by simply pausing and letting the silence work for them. And some get so focused on one option that they forget to generate other options that could lead to an agreement.

You might also get in your own way during a negotiation if you worry too much about what others will think of you or that you might damage the relationship. I once had a client who feared that her manager would think she was greedy for asking for a raise because she was already well-paid — even though she was notably underpaid relative to her peers.

Finally, if you tend to assume the worst, you may not even be willing to ask for what you really want. For example, another former client assumed that when she asked for a nontraditional work schedule that her company would simply tell her to leave if she wasn't happy. This kept her from noticing that her company was clearly willing to go to great lengths to retain a high performer like her.

Once you've identified how you might get in your own way, plan in advance the adjustments you’ll make. For example, you can decide now that if you start to back down in your negotiation for a raise, you'll pause, take a breath and remind yourself of all the ways you add value.

Every single client I have worked with to prepare for a negotiation, including both of the examples I mentioned, got everything they wanted in their negotiations. And you can, too.

To download our free tool “Preparing to Negotiate a Pay Increase”, complete the form below. And if you're in the Houston area, I'm speaking on "Negotiating for What You Want" for the Women's Energy Network Houston Chapter on May 18.