Winning Over the Boss: A Simple System for Workplace Negotiations

workplace negotiationsWant a raise? Want to work from home more often? Know you could handle more responsibility if given a chance? But don’t know how to win workplace negotiations?

Whether you want a better salary, more autonomy or a more fulfilling career path, achieving your objective hinges on winning over the boss.

These five tips will boost your chances during workplace negotiations:

Tell Your Story

Even when you clearly deserve what you’re asking for, you still have to convince a potentially skeptical boss. So in negotiations, never let your offer or proposal speak without numbers to back up your idea. Exactly why do you deserve a raise? How might working from home benefit the organization?

Don’t just tell them what you want. Provide a compelling story, including quantified impact statements, that justifies why your’s is a reasonable request.

Help Them Sell It

Even after you’ve won over your boss, you’re not necessarily in the clear. They might need to champion your cause to others in the organization. It may be up to them to explain why they are making an exception to company policy for you.

How will they sell it to their boss, or to the other people they manage? Help them anticipate objections. Then construct the narrative they will need to offer a counter perspective.

Be Flexible

The boss is on board. They know how to make the case to others. And still the answer is “no.” Why? Maybe a raise will break the budget. Maybe granting more responsibility would be poorly timed. Please understand: your boss, and other decision makers, might have genuine constraints.

The solution: be flexible. After all, the more willing you are to listen to, or suggest alternatives, the more likely it is that you’ll be rewarded. If working at home isn’t possible now, are there days you could arrive later and leave earlier? If a higher base salary is not possible now, how about a higher end-of-year bonus?

Stay at the Negotiating Table

You’ve told a good story. You’ve helped them sell. And you’ve been flexible. And the answer still comes back “no”? Be patient, but persistent over time. Remember: what’s not possible today may be negotiable tomorrow.

If the boss can’t give you a higher salary today, is it possible for them to evaluate you for a raise sooner than currently scheduled? Working from a home office isn’t an option when you first join the company, but might they reconsider after you have proven yourself to be a conscientious employee?

Be Likeable

In every negotiation, workplace or otherwise, no one is going to fight for you unless they like you. This might seem obvious, but sometimes people are so focused on arguing their case that they come across as arrogant or combative. Asking to revisit your request too soon after being told “no” can be perceived as pushy.

Balance is key as you apply the principles above. Do a good job justifying your request, show concern for organizational constraints and demonstrate flexibility… and you are likely on the path to likability.

Workplace negotiations can be tricky. They can cause anxiety. Use these tips, however, and you’ll be that much closer to winning the boss over.




Deepak-MalhoutraAbout the Author: Deepak Malhotra is the Eli Goldston Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. He has consulted on hundreds of high-stakes negotiations, deadlocked deals, diplomatic stalemates and protracted conflicts. A bestselling author, his new book, Negotiating the Impossible (Berrett-Koehler 2016) offers principles to apply in everyday life, whether negotiating job offers, resolving business disputes, or tackling obstacles in personal relationships. Follow Deepak on Twitter.



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