Image by Peter Koval
This article originally appeared on IvankaTrump.com—the must-see digital destination for #WomenWhoWork.
As #WomenWhoWork, negotiation is one of the most critical career skills we can have.
A recent study showed that only 7% of women negotiate their starting salaries, for instance—a fact that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars over our lifetimes, because every salary increase and every new job negotiation depends on that first rate of pay.
Consequently, developing your ability to negotiate for what you want is a must. Here’s the advice I offer to my coaching clients on how to negotiate, and win.
1) Go in as prepared as possible
Before any negotiation—be it for a raise, a promotion, or even an apartment rental—do your research.
If you’re angling for a larger salary, this means investigating what others in the market (and preferably in your company) are earning in your position. Knowing how you compare is mandatory so that you don’t undercut your value.
Similarly, if you’re negotiating your prospective rent, how does your apartment compare to others of similar size and value? Is it overpriced, and if so, what can you point to that shores up your position?
Knowing the relevant data puts facts in your arsenal that will help you make the case for your request.
2) Write up your intentions for how the negotiation will flow
Before any challenging conversation or negotiation, I advise all my coaching clients to write up a paragraph, in positive, present-tense language, describing how they want the conversation to flow.
This should not be a script, but rather should focus on the emotional responses of all involved. Do you want your boss to exit the conversation feeling positive about your work and your request for more money? Do you want to leave the conversation feeling appreciated?
Setting an intention before any negotiation makes you more likely to anticipate a positive response, and also helps to get the negotiation back on track if it deviates from your desired flow.
Know your intended outcome, and you’ll be more likely to get there.
3) Anticipate challenging questions, and write up draft responses in advance
In any negotiation, understanding the weaknesses in your position is the first step to overcoming them. As a result, preparing for the challenges you may face in any negotiation is the next step to getting what you want.
If you were on the other side of the table, what would you want to know? What concerns would you have? What factors might weigh in favor of a negative answer?
Anticipate the challenges you’ll face, write up your ideal responses, and then, most importantly, practice saying them out loud. A gracious, immediate response to a challenging question is a surefire way to raise confidence in your position when you’re face to face.
4) Know your bottom line, but don’t start there
In any negotiation, a general rule of thumb is that the first person to state a number loses. Why? Because that person has then shown their hand, and has nowhere to go but down.
However, there are some cases in which stating your number is unavoidable. If you’re asked for an ideal salary before you have a job offer, for example, you will need to respond.
For that reason, you need to know the baseline of what you would accept, but you should always, without fail, start higher.
Believe in your worth and your value. Be confident in your willingness to walk away if the number you need is not accepted. And with any luck, you’ll end up getting much, much more.
5) Be gracious and grateful, no matter the outcome
Negotiations are moments in our lives when we’re called upon to show what we’re made of. Taking the high road, even when we don’t get an ideal outcome, is critically important. No negotiation is worth losing one’s temper or one’s dignity.
Performing well in a negotiation shows your boss, your colleagues, and your business connections that you are a force to be reckoned with in the future. Professionalism inspires confidence and trust.
End every negotiation with a thank you—whether in person, or in a polite email—and you’ll be on your way to greater success now and in the future. Gratitude ensures a win-win for all involved.