The thought of going into any negotiation makes people anxious. A normally confident person can instantly find themselves questioning their own abilities. How do you start the conversation? How do you prepare? And, what if you get rejected--for a raise, a promotion, or maybe even a different schedule?
"I remember watching her brilliantly negotiate the situation," said Meg Myers Morgan Ph.D , a leadership professor at the University of Oklahoma. "I wanted to be that fearless--to ask for what I really wanted, and not just accept what was being offered."
Most of us want to be better negotiators. Most of us want to be fearless. And, most of believe that maybe the confidence we need to be better negotiators will come with age and experience.
"I was envious of my daughter's ability to negotiate," added Myers Morgan. "She was only four years old at the time. She was absolutely fearless."
A recent CareerBuilder study reveals the primary reason people choose not to negotiate - because they are afraid an employer will not to hire them. The same survey shows that 36 percent of people stated that they didn't want to appear greedy. And, while fear and humility might seem like easy hurdles to overcome--especially in the brief moments that can critically impact our futures--they seem to be paralyzing.
A Glassdoor study is a great example. It revealed that three in five employees did not negotiate their salary in their current roll. And, women negotiated far less often (68 percent did not negotiate) than men (52 percent didn't negotiate).
"We need to change this," added Myers Morgan. "It's not just about salary either. We should negotiate for all the things that help us become the best version of ourselves. If you need a flexible schedule to perform at your best, negotiate it. If you have special family needs, negotiate for them. If you deserve more money, you need to speak up."
While speaking at companies and conferences, Myers Morgan said she's consistently approached by many people asking for career advice. "Negotiation is also a life skill," she said. "While it's true that we often clump into the career category, I'm amazed when people share stories about a slight change in mindset changes their entire life--their relationship with their organization, friends, peers, or significant others. Negotiating isn't about manipulating people to get more than you deserve. It's about leveraging your worth for something you value."
I asked Meg if she could give a few pieces of advice on how to prepare for a negotiation--especially when it comes to accepting a job, or asking for new terms from an existing employer. Here are a few ideas to get started.
1. Know your relative position.
"Most job titles will fall into a salary range that is based on what the marketplace dictates," she said. "Your job is to understand that range, and where you fit in. If you're at the bottom of the range, you need to come prepared to explain why you deserve more money. If you're at the top, you need to explain why you need a promotion.
2. Be clear about the value you can, or do, create.
"Often times people think they need to work for a specific amount of time before they can negotiate different terms or higher wages. And, there is value in commitment, but only if you understand the value you can or do create for your organization. It's critical to understand your worth, and that's a direct reflection of the value you create.
3. Re-frame the perception.
"Many people, especially women, worry about how they'll be perceived if they ask for more. They worry about appearing ungrateful, greedy, or difficult. Instead, think about the positive perceptions of your negotiating. How strong and competent it makes you look to stand up for yourself and what you want. Negotiating can show your assertiveness, leadership skills, and drive. Plus, asking for what you want will change your perception of yourself.
4. Understand everything is negotiable.
I hear from a lot of people that just assume that they can only negotiate over salary, and/or they can only negotiate when they are first hired. This is just an assumption. And, even if something is non-negotiable, you'll never know unless you ask.
Negotiation, to many of us, is uncomfortable. Yet, it's also something we all wish we could approach fearlessly. "If you're working on improving yourself this year, learning how to speak up for yourself should be your first priority," said Myers Morgan. "Know your worth and ask for more."