The Negotiator Magazine

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This leads to a host of problems. The first one is that by negotiating on salary, the negotiation gets too focused. Potential solutions that would work for both parties are never addressed because they are out of the scope of “salary”. For example, suppose you are in the final phases of interviewing for a new job, or heading into an annual review, and you are at the point where you are discussing how much you will get paid. At a minimum, think of that negotiation not in terms of salary, but in terms of total possible compensation.

Your boss may not be able to give you a ten thousand dollar increase in your salary. However, he or she may be able to give you a tuition credit, free access to company sponsored day care, or a company car. Perhaps you can get a travel allowance for your daily commute or free food service at the company food-court. If you were going to spend money on those items anyway, then receiving those benefits is just as good as getting the higher salary.

Creating a list of your monthly expenses, and then negotiating for alternative ways your company can pay for those, is an excellent example of following step #1. By knowing what you want, and why you want it, you can find many ways to get the results you are looking for.

Step #2 Do Your Research and Have Multiple Options Ready
The best time to explore alternatives is not in a negotiation, it is before a negotiation. Think in terms of the compensation example from Step #1. If you had already done the research and identified that the company has a program in place for tuition reimbursement, then that option becomes instantly more viable than if it is an unknown possibility.

Justifying a purchase price for everything from a new car to a corporation becomes much easier if you can put specific examples in front of the person you are negotiating with. Do the research they don’t have time for, so that you can make their decision process as easy as possible. Provide them with information that justifies why the decision you want them to make, is the right one.

Most people are looking for someone else to bring them actionable solutions. It isn’t that they don’t want to give benefits, it’s that they don’t have time to figure out how to give the benefits. Do yourself a favor and do all the legwork for the other person. If all they have to do is sign on the appropriate documentation, which you have already obtained and filled out for them, you are much more likely to get that signature.

This step is applicable to all types of negotiations. Whether you are trying to purchase a 400 unit apartment building or a single family home, do your research ahead of time and have your options ready when you come to the negotiating table. A filled out home warranty or an umbrella liability policy is much more likely to be put in as part of a deal, if all the other person has to do is sign the paperwork.

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September 2006