Negotiating Your Salary or Appraisal Like a Pro.

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Remember when you went to the market with your mom? Apart from the sun killing me, my worst memory of the market was when my mom would bargain with sellers. She’d insist on buying at less than half the original price. I always thought it was tacky. Unnecessary even. Why can’t she just buy without all that drama?

What my second hand embarrassment ridden self didn’t realise was this - she’d get it right. She always walked away with what she wanted, at the price she wanted. And what did this do? It helped her save. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably understood the power of a good negotiation only in your twenties. I’ve seen two friends with the same skills get different salaries, only because one negotiated and the other didn’t. If you’re wondering how to can start with negotiation, here’s a few pointers I’ve been trying to use for myself:

1. Throw away the embarrassment

I struggled and still struggle with negotiating my salary because I’m embarrassed of how it looks. But a deeper look showed me that this was actually more about fear than embarrassment.

I’ve been afraid of losing the offer, being turned down, or judged. Despite this, I try to negotiate. What I have been learning is that the chances of being turned down or losing the offer are far lesser than we think. Salary negotiation is a two-way street and you can always stop when you think it’s a stretch. And about judgement? The person on the other side of the table doesn’t know you. They’re trying to save, so why shouldn’t you? There’s no way you’ll start negotiating if you stick to the embarrassment. It’s time to throw the entire thing away


2. Know what you’re getting into

Be it negotiating with your neighbourhood auto rickshaw walah or with the hiring manager during an interview, always do your research. Know what the market rates for that role are. Emphasise on the skills you add to the role, about the value you bring to the team. Negotiating isn’t just about the money you want, it’s also about what you give in exchange for it. Sure, someone else can do the job for a cheaper price, but you’re going to bring much needed changes and skills to the role.

Pro tip - When it comes to sitting in an interview, speak to people in similar roles in the same industry. Connect with people whose roles you see yourself growing into, you’ll thank me later.


3. Practice until perfect

Let’s be real, there’s no way you’ll wake up one morning to be the best salary negotiator out there. The only way you get better is by practicing everywhere you can. If you’re new to it all, maybe try with something smaller. I started negotiating at the internships I did in college. I asked for smaller raises. I also tried my hand with my landlord during the lockdown. And it worked both times. I also sat through rounds of interviews where I continued negotiating, even though I wasn’t too sure of working there. Not only did it help me gauge what a good in-hand salary for me would be, it also helped boosting my confidence. Starting small can also help you un-learn all that embarrassment.


4. Master the spiel

Some of the best salary negotiators I have come across are master bullshitters. An average bullshitter doesn’t know much but speaks with confidence. Usually, this has a 50-50 chance of things going their way. A master bullshitter has just the right amount of knowledge, charm, and open-mindedness to have a good negotiation. No one is expecting you to be Oprah. But know that knowing when to pause and when to speak can take your negotiating game up a notch. In addition, building rapport, creating a comfortable space for a conversation, knowing more about the person you’re speaking to will only move you closer to your goal.


5. Know where to stop

To me, this point is the most important one. It’s also the most confusing one. How can you know when to truly stop? Do you keep trying for your goal or reach midway and let it go? Remember, it’s a negotiation only when both sides get what they want. As you expect the other person to understand where you’re coming from, understand what they’re looking for.
A sustainable deal is one which keeps both sides satisfied. A good salary negotiation isn’t about winning and having the upper hand. It’s a partnership. If the negotiation does work out, chances are you’ll be closely involved with this person. And you don’t want that starting on a bad note.

6. Do a trial run with someone's help

It’s highly possible that you don’t even know you need negotiations. You’re sailing pretty fine right now and don’t want to risk anything. I only began negotiating because I saw what it was doing for the people around me. I realised what I was missing out on - a decent chance to save more or make more. From your HR Manager, to your freelance client, and even with yourself, negotiating always has the chance of making things better for you. And the best part? The opposite of a good negotiation isn’t losing a deal, it’s just sitting where you started.

That risk to reward ratio is one you should start tapping into, right about now!

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