Getting to Yes
The Process of Negotiation
Whether you’re ready for a raise, a promotion or a longer lunch, asking your boss for what you want can be intimidating for even the most experienced employees. To get some insight into the nuances of negotiating, I spoke with Patricia Phillips, strategic planning and development director for the Kroc Center. Phillips, who actually loves the process of negotiating, shared her perspective with me. Read on to learn what she brings to the bargaining table.
Start by Listening
“When it comes to negotiating anything, you have to frame it from the [other] person’s perspective,” says Phillips. And in order to do that, you must know what that perspective is. So while you are going about your business, also pay attention to what matters to the company and what matters to your boss. Find out: What are the company’s priorities? Where does your boss want to see results? Where are resources being put?
Build a Relationship
Discovering what’s at the heart of your company is an opportunity to develop your relationship with your boss – not in a brown-nosy sort of way, but to understand her priorities and what her vision is for the organization.
“You have to build that conversation to a point where it’s reasonable for you to ask for something,” says Phillips.
Like any relationship, this isn’t an overnight process, so don’t expect to pack it all in one exchange, but allow it to unfold over time.
Do Your Homework
When you’re planning to ask for something, think ahead to what the potential barriers might be. Some of this is information you’ll have gleaned from listening and communicating with others in the company. Be prepared to address these issues with creative solutions. “You basically have to speak to those things and make it a win for both,” says Phillips.
Where’s the Value?
You’re not trying to convince your boss of your value; she’s likely already aware of this, especially if you’ve been building a relationship with her. And you’re also not telling her why you need or deserve a raise, or whatever it is you are asking for. Your needs and desires are not a compelling reason for your boss to give you the yes you want to hear.
So what are you doing? You’re actually showing your boss how your proposition – what you want – will benefit the company in a way that aligns with her vision and the company’s mission. You’re shifting your perspective to “how can what I’m asking for actually become a resource for you?”
Phillips says your boss may “think you’re as valuable as valuable can be,” but if she doesn’t perceive she has extra money in the budget for your raise, the answer is going to be no. But when you bring a solution that offers added revenue or a strategy that perhaps streamlines a complicated process allowing her to “move some buckets around” and reallocate some money, you are creating a scenario where you can both win.
“You basically just want to show somebody how they can tell you ‘yes,’” says Phillips.
“Chances are they’re probably not going to agree with what you suggest,” says Phillips, “so agree to something that has stuff in it that you’re willing to give up.”
Phillips says it’s when people start to hold on tight to their position that negotiations start to fall apart. In the end, you’ll both be giving up something. In the case of a raise, your boss will (hopefully) be giving up some cash. Know for yourself what you are willing to give up.
Phillips suggests that instead of focusing solely on what you want, look at it from the other point of view and what value you can create for the company. “People get really involved in what they want, and they think by talking about what you want they’re going to lose what they want, and it’s really the opposite.”
Showing your boss what she or the company will gain gives her a reason to say yes.
When the Answer is No
“I always say you never get a ‘no’; you get a ‘not yet,’” says Phillips. If you ask for something and get denied, remember to keep listening. This is an opportunity to learn more about what barriers may still be in place as well as clues to a solution that might mean a yes in the future.
Don’t Take it Personally
This is sometimes easier said than done, but remember that it’s not about you, and being denied doesn’t reflect on your worth or value to the company. You can take your personal feelings out of the equation and maintain your commitment to what you want for yourself and the organization.
The Bottom Line
It comes down to trust. Phillips says, “When somebody trusts that you are after their good, you get more of what you want.”
And when you’re genuinely interested in creating value for both sides, you’ll find yourself in a win-win.