Now that I am a business owner, I hope to never have to negotiate a salary, bonus, etc. in my future, because those conversations have made me super uncomfortable. I used to think it was due to fear, but now I suspect it was due to how introverted I am.
I am not claiming to be an introvert expert, but this blog is to talk about some of my own experiences as an introvert.
The below tips have helped me feel more comfortable when it came time to negotiate or bring up professional frustrations to my superiors.
I will also add that beyond just job and income reasons, I have found success in email negotiations for both my apartment rent as well as a car purchase. However, this blog largely talks about in person negotiations because that is the world we live in (for the most part), and specifically in regards to professional compensation as I find that is the most relevant for individuals.
The key to the process in my opinion is preparation, and that is pretty much the whole process… I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone through a discussion in my head after the fact and thought “I should have said / done ____”. For me personally, I am not a verbal processor and everything needs to be thought through as opposed to blurting out a response. It typically leads to shutting down or moving on before getting the answers, because more time was needed to think through what was said.
Here are some of the ways I have found success in my preparations:
1) What is the purpose of the discussion?
What are you trying to get out of the discussion at hand? Whether it is best case scenario or worst-case scenario, the absolute worst outcome is having a meaningless conversation. Too many times I’ve come out of a meeting angry from talking in circles and realizing I am right back where I started.
Make sure you know what you want answered: even if it isn't the answer you want to hear. At the end of the day, the purpose of negotiation discussions is typically to get more information or understand another perspective. Once you understand the other side's position, you can make a more informed decision for yourself.
2) Write it down
Bring in notes! It’s easy to think you are going to walk in there, fight for yourself, and have the perfect answers. You’ve gone through the negotiation so many times in your head and had the perfect responses during those - why wouldn’t it be the same in person?
It won’t be. It’ll be uncomfortable and almost always you’ll be surprised at what the other side will say to you. There is no shame in writing notes, making sure you have the key items you want to bring up and key questions you need answered. If you feel like things are going south, regroup by posing a question from your notes to get you back on track.
3) Make your case
This goes back to my first point and the purpose of the discussion. When determining what you are asking for, make sure you have backup as to why you are making your request. It is your job to make a case as to why you deserve it.
In my experience, employers try to make you feel like they are doing you a favor by employing you. Remember that this is a two-way street - they need you as much as you need them, whether they realize it or not. Know your value and know that you have power as well!
My recommendation: don’t pull a number or reason out of thin air - have backup for it. This will give you proof as to why you deserve your request and it will also give you confidence in what you are requesting.
A couple ways I’ve done this is keeping an email folder of positive remarks from superiors throughout my employment, as well as keeping a list of ways you’ve gone above and beyond your job description throughout the year. It can be uncomfortable to toot your horn, but the point is to show your value. If you won’t prove it, nobody will for you, and all your hard work throughout the year will likely be forgotten.
My last point is to encourage you not to over-explain. Make your ask, and stay silent to hear their response. You may think they are about to get mad and freak out, but you never know. Maybe they expected you to do this and are open to having the discussion. Silence works in your favor here.
4) Know when you’re fighting a losing battle
During your preparation, I recommend thinking through the worst-case scenario, and having an action plan if this is realized.
I don't want to say “know when to walk away” because a negotiation doesn’t always have to be win or lose. If it doesn’t go your way, don't get frustrated or walk away then and there. Make sure you get the information that you came for, and then know when there is nothing left to discuss. You can then politely end the conversation, taking time for yourself to reflect on the discussion and start thinking through your options.
This leads back to my first point again - even if it is not the answer you want to hear, make sure you at least get the answer or more information. This only helps you make a better-informed decision.
5) Follow up
A negotiation does not have to be a one-time event - it can be ongoing. If afterwards, you realize you missed something or need some more information, do not fear requesting it after the meeting.
If there are any lingering questions that you have, determine the best way to get those answers - and then get them.
If there was a resolution, follow up by documenting it to make sure it is put in writing. If no resolution was achieved, make an action plan to do so or request “next steps” from the other side to make sure there is a resolution in the near future.
“Negotiating” is such an intimidating word in my opinion and my hope is to break it down into a conversation/discussion to get rid of that intimidation. Many salaries are set up with the expectation of a negotiation that is left on the table because, understandably so, many are afraid to have one.
At the end of the day, it benefits everyone if you feel valued and are getting what you want and need from your job. This is the process to bring up concerns if you are not happy with your situation.
Finally, for my fellow introverts, I encourage you to consider the art of email negotiation in certain situations. The general argument is that the person on the other side will be emotional and feel bad saying "no" when you are face to face; I don't think this is a valid concern because in my experience, people have literally no problem saying no to your face.
Email works into the psyche of an introvert; it gives us time to digest and thoroughly articulate a response. This is not something we can do as well on the fly, and we are immediately at a disadvantage going into an extroverted boss’s office to have this talk.
At the most basic level, negotiating is making both parties happy with an agreement; I don’t think it matters how that agreement comes to be as long as it is agreed upon.
This can give yourself the best chance at success by being the most comfortable - email is like home court advantage for an introvert.