Office Negotiation Strategies

In HOW’s November 2012 issue, The Creative Group tackled the daunting the topic of “How to Negotiate Like a Pro,” laying out five negotiation strategies to help you engage in positive negotiations at work and get what you need. Here we address the finer points of successful negotiation tactics, some do’s and don’ts, and some good sources for research before jumping into your next workplace negotiation.

The Finer Points of Successful Negotiations

They say the devil’s in the details, and the same holds for negotiations. When and how you make your request can influence how it’s received. Following are some negotiation tactics that can set the stage for a smooth process:

  • Time it right. The best time to make a work-related request is right after a big success or completion of an important project—when your value is most apparent.
  • Give them warning. Don’t surprise someone with a negotiation; instead, let the other party know what you want to discuss and provide him or her with plenty of time to prepare. “Most people have a default reaction of disregarding a request when they’re caught off guard,” warns Chad Carr, lecturer on law at Harvard Law School’s Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program.
  • Schedule generously. You don’t want to make hasty decisions in the interest of time. Schedule more time than you think you’ll need for the discussion, especially if it’s a sensitive topic.
  • Practice until you’re perfect. It can be beneficial to role-play the conversation with a friend or mentor; they may bring up ideas or objections that you hadn’t considered.
  • Send the right signals. Smile, relax your body posture and uncross your arms. An open stance makes you appear more confident and can put the other person at ease.
  • Pretend that you’re representing someone else’s interests. If you feel uncomfortable making a case for yourself, it can help to picture yourself negotiating for another person. “People are much more forthright on someone else’s behalf than their own,” says Terri Kurtzberg, associate professor of management and global business at Rutgers Business School and co-author of “The Essentials of Job Negotiations.”
  • End on a high note. Keep the conversation positive, and thank the other person for his or her time.
The Creative Group can help you learn How to Make More Money as a Designer in 2013.

Talk the Talk

What kinds of things should—and shouldn’t—you say in a negotiation? Here are some tips provided by Carr:

DO speak from your own impressions. (“I have been working hard for two years and don’t think my compensation reflects my contributions.”)
DON’T attribute intent to the other person. (“You haven’t given me a raise in more than two years.”)

DO ask for assistance. (“What do you think I need to do to earn $75,000?”)
DON’T make demands. (“I deserve to be making $75,000.”)

DO use the word “and” instead of “but.” (“I really enjoy working here because of the interesting projects, and, at the same time, I feel like I’m not adequately compensated for my efforts.”)
DON’T use the word “but.” (“I really enjoy working here because of the interesting projects, but, at the same time, I feel like I’m not adequately compensated for my efforts.”

Let Research Be Your Guide

These sources that may be useful as you are prepare for a work-related negotiation:

  • The Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook: This publication provide salary data, job descriptions and growth forecasts for a number of positions, including art directors and graphic designers.
  • Recruiting firms: Recruiters that specialize in placing creative professionals, such as The Creative Group, often publish salary guides and provide access to compensation data. TCG’s salary information can be accessed at Recruiters also can talk to you about the market for professionals with your skills in your city.
  • Industry groups and associations: A number of industry groups, such as the AIGA and American Advertising Federation, publish information about compensation and industry trends.
  • Local Business Journals and trade magazines: These publications often feature information on companies that are hiring, skills in demand and trends in the marketing/advertising industry.
  • Social media: Industry groups can be an invaluable source of information about a wide range of issues, including pay. Also, if you’re interested in a particular business, you can view the firm’s company pages on sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to learn more about them.