How to negotiate with your work

There may be times when you need to negotiate with your employer – perhaps because you want to change your working hours, pay, or where you work from. Maybe you need to negotiate when you take your holiday or extra leave? Or perhaps you want them to deal with an issue in a different way. Check out our tips for how to make sure it goes well.
Black man mending computer

1. Know your rights

Before you begin to negotiate, take steps to find out what rights you have and what you can reasonably expect your work to agree to.

Be careful also to check what you will need to do. For example, if you want to request changes to your working hours, you usually need to put that request in writing.

2. Have a plan

Plan what you are going to ask for and how.

Think about any potential problems or any reasons they may have for saying no, and think about how you might respond to them.

Think about any ways your request might have an impact on your colleagues or the team you're part of, and how that impact could be managed or even turned into a positive thing.

Can you think of any ways your request might actually help the business or help you to perform your role better?

Having a plan keeps you focused on what you want when the conversation leads in unexpected directions.

3. Be flexible

You will probably need to compromise. Be prepared for this and decide in advance about what you are willing to compromise on, and how far you are willing to go. The key to successful negotiation is finding a way for both sides to feel ok with the outcome. Your willingness to compromise will encourage the other person's co-operation.

4. Be calm, confident and assertive

Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated. In negotiation you may encounter many different attitudes, sometimes hostile or dismissive, even aggressive.

It is vital that you remain calm and positive. Nobody is at their most persuasive when cross or flustered. Do your best to look confident even if you don’t feel it and try to stick to the plan of what you wanted to say and how your suggestion might help them too.

5. Ask questions

When new information or options are presented to you in the middle of a negotiation, do not be afraid to ask questions until you are confident you have understood what has been said.

Do not agree to anything until you are sure you know what it means.

6. Know when to walk away

You may need to end the conversation in order to do more research or consider your options more carefully without pressure.

If the conversation is not going well (perhaps you have not managed to remain calm), it is often best to stop and approach it again at another time.

Or maybe you have got what you want. It sounds obvious but don't be petty or try for more when you've got the outcome you wanted. Instead, smile and say thank you.

December 2017

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