Top 7 Ways to Negotiate with your Boss

Declan Mulkeen

4 May 2016

When we think about our negotiation skills we tend to focus on negotiating externally with clients, suppliers and partners. However, one of the most challenging types of negotiation in the workplace is when you have to negotiate with your boss. This can be anything from a formal salary negotiation through to requesting extended annual leave or flexible working hours or renegotiating a deadline.

Get ready to negotiate with your boss

The way in which you influence and negotiate with management can have a lasting impact on your career

The relationship with your manager is probably the most important professional relationship you have and the way in which you influence and negotiate with them can have a lasting impact on your career. Therefore, make sure to follow these 7 steps when you negotiate with your boss.

Be prepared and make sure you have done your research before you start negotiating

1. Get your timing right 

Approach your boss when you know the time is right for them but also try to ensure that your conversation coincides with a successful project that you have completed or a recent situation where you have gone the extra mile.

2. Be prepared

Make sure you have done your research before you start negotiating. If you are negotiating a salary increase then have examples of what people in similar roles are earning and of what other organisations pay for your expertise.

3. Keep control of your emotions

Be as neutral as possible and stick to the issues themselves rather than your reactions or feelings. Try not to show how much it matters to you as this could potentially weaken your position.

Show that you have something valuable to give and that by accommodating your request your boss will also be in a better position

4. Support your arguments with concrete facts and examples

Rather than talking in general terms about your experience, expertise or longevity with the company quote specific examples of where you have added value or delivered success.

5. Put yourself in your boss’s shoes

Try to demonstrate how your expectations could be mutually beneficial. For example, if you are asking for flexible working you can explain how you will be able to give extra time to the business and work more effectively. Show that you have something valuable to give and that by accommodating your request your boss will also be in a better position.

6. Be clear on your bottom line

Before you start your conversation you should be clear in your own mind how far you are prepared to compromise and what you need to achieve.

Know your BATNA (Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement). This is your fallback position if you fail to reach an agreement. So for example, if your boss refuses the salary increase you request, your BATNA might be that you need to have an enhanced commission scheme or that you are given training in the skills you require for your next promotion.

7. Make sure you have a summary of what has been agreed

Either ask your boss to send an email confirming the outcomes of your conversation or send an email yourself outlining your request and the agreed response or timelines to respond.

Influencing and negotiating are essential skills for growing your career and improve your opportunities

As with all types of communication, preparation, clarity and empathy are crucial to ensure that negotiation brings about positive outcomes. Negotiating can be a particularly challenging form of communication as it potentially leads to conflict and when you are negotiating with your boss there is an obvious power gap before you even start.

However, influencing and negotiating are essential skills for growing your career and improve your opportunities.



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