Getting what you want out of your career requires some negotiation, but negotiating with a boss or another higher-ranking individual in your company is easier said than done. Even if you want something that’s not a raise or a promotion—a new chain of command in the office, for example, or better benefits—you’ll need a fair amount of courage to even ask for a meeting in which to negotiate. Then, when it actually comes time for that meeting to take place? Talk about nerve-wracking.
But you know what they say: You have to ask for what you want in order to get it.
Below, we outline how to get the results you desire from your next negotiations meeting while retaining a positive relationship with your boss.
1. Lay the Groundwork
First things first, before you even ask for that negotiations meeting, you need to lay the negotiation groundwork with your boss. You should begin this process as soon as possible, preferably right when you start your job. But if it’s past that point, it’s important you begin laying the groundwork now for future successful negotiations.
Create a communicative mindset and environment in your relationship with your boss. Work on communicating with them often and effectively. In your everyday conversations, use data, stray from hyperboles, speak directly, and don’t shy away from hard conversations.
2. Know Your Value
You can’t ask for anything if you don’t believe you deserve it! When you walk into a negotiations conversation with your boss, come into the situation knowing your own value, and have the data to back it up. Don’t just know that you’re an important part of the team. Know exactly what you contribute and what metrics you make possible through this contribution.
Did you bring specific deals to your company? Do you have specific client successes under your belt? Know your value and don’t be afraid to reference your accomplishments. Your boss likely knows your value, but it can help you get what you want if you gently remind them of what they’ve got.
In addition to knowing the value you offer your current boss, know the value you could potentially bring others as well. What’s the market value for someone with your experience? Have that figure handy in case you need to reference it.
3. Get Out of the Way
Get out of your own way! If you have cognitive biases, you could be standing in your own way when it comes to negotiating effectively. Remember, it all comes down to believing you deserve what you’re asking for, whatever that may be. While you might believe that on a surface level, internal biases might be steering you otherwise.
For example, if you have a self-serving internal bias, you might automatically assume that, if you do all the right things, all the good things will happen to you, and bad things are out of your control. This bias could prevent you from taking personal responsibility for issues on your team you need to address. However, if you take personal responsibility for team outcomes, not just the good outcomes, you might demonstrate to your boss that you have the emotional maturity they are looking for when they are doling out raises, promotions, or anything else for which you might negotiate.
4. Remain Professional and Respectful
This tip ought to be a given, but it bears repeating. Whenever you go into any negotiation process with a boss or manager, it’s important to remain professional and respectful. Not doing so can completely turn your boss off to any negotiations and severely damage your credibility, regardless of your value to your team.
5. Don’t Give Up Right Away
Lastly, it’s important to realize that if your boss does say “no” to your request, that doesn’t necessarily mean no to all negotiations. In fact, that means that the negotiations are just beginning.
As a Business Insider article notes, it’s important to understand “that it’s not really a negotiation if we’re asking for something we already know our bargaining partner also wants.” Instead, “negotiation is essentially a conversation in which the goal is to reach an agreement with someone whose interests are not perfectly aligned with yours.”
So, instead of going into your negotiations expecting an automatic “yes” and zero pushback, go into them expecting at least a little “no,” so that you’ll need to be prepared to work with your boss to reach a result you both want. If you’ve laid that groundwork of communication already, this will be easier than you might think.
The Bottom Line
Getting where you want in your career requires a little bit of courage—and that includes the courage to ask for what you want instead of just waiting around for that next big promotion or opportunity. Ask your boss to give you the tools or resources you need for success, and then be prepared to negotiate further. The five tips above can help you make this happen.
But we know it’s not always easy. If you need a little extra help working up the gumption to make that big ask, Arootah’s coaching services can help you work toward what you want in every aspect of your life, from career goals to your personal relationships to your fitness. Check out our various coaching services and book a free, introductory coaching session today.