Most of us do not change jobs often enough to hone our skills in terms of salary negotiations. Nor do we possess lots of experience when it comes to negotiating a better salary at our salary review time. As a result it is not uncommon for people to enter into negotiations on the basis of hearsay and/or dangerous misconceptions.
What follows are negotiating approaches that you should avoid. Some may sound great at the pub or over a dinner conversation and they may have even worked for an individual that you know but that does not mean they represent sound negotiating techniques.
1. Avoid the aggressive cowboy approach. The cowboy approach describes that person who rushes into negotiations with his/her guns ablazing, i.e., the person who generally thinks that they’re irreplaceable which entitles them to ask for unreasonable amounts of money. The cowboy negotiator believes that an uncompromising approach to negotiating is the best approach and that showing signs of weakness will only serve to undermine their campaign. They either get what they demand or they’re out looking for another job (which is common). Unless you are, in fact, irreplaceable then steer clear from this approach. And even if you are irreplaceable I would recommend a more modest approach.
2. Equally as dangerous as the aggressive cowboy is the submissive saint. This person does not want to rock the boat or upset anyone. They’re so anxious at keeping the peace they’re willing to accept less than what they deserve. In fact, the very thought of having to negotiate sends shivers up their spines. This approach may work with some employers, but on the whole submissive saints are generally liked and underpaid – and they know it.
3. Avoid playing the politician. The politician promises the earth to get his/her extra money but then finds a million excuses on why they can’t deliver. Politicians have short-term victories, but these soon sour. Their bosses soon wake up to them and refuse to play their game. Politicians tend to lack credibility within the organization and are not highly regarded. If you make a commitment make sure you can keep it. Good negotiators think beyond short-term expediencies.
4. Avoid the “she’ll be right” syndrome. In other words, moderate your reliance on your employer (unless, of course, you have an enlightened employer who has proven their worth). Whilst trust and cooperation in the workplace is an important ingredient for organisational success it should not be the overriding consideration when it comes to salary negotiations. Be sure you thoroughly prepare your case by ascertaining what the market is paying for people such as yourself and also be sure you can articulate clearly how you’ve added value (or will add value) to the organization.
5. Avoid playing the jealous sibling. The jealous sibling finds out what other individuals are earning (within their organization as well as other organizations) and absolutely wants to be earning the same amount or more. Jealous siblings fail to take into consideration a whole lot of factors including their own abilities – on the whole they tend to overestimate their contributions. Whilst it’s great to know what the market is paying for your skills you shouldn’t be concerned about what other individuals are earning. Chances are that the figures you’re hearing are highly unreliable.