5 Tips for Knowing When to Negotiate

Here's how to pick your battles.

Ivanka answered your questions on mastering the art of the deal, but how do you know when to negotiate and when to accept the offer you're given? Negotiations can be intimidating, and it can feel like there’s a lot to lose. We asked the experts for their five best tips on picking your battles. 5 Tips for Knowing When to Negotiate

The Skill Set: Picking Your Negotiation Battles


1. Negotiate every time (well, almost every time)

“You want to negotiate the terms of almost any offer,” says Hallie Crawford, a career coach. That said, there is one workplace situation in which Hallie advises against negotiating. “If you're offered a salary that's higher than the market value or average salary for that position, take it. There aren't many situations where you don't want to negotiate, but this is one of them.” 

2. Understand what the other side can give you

Do your research and know what you’re up against. "Avoid negotiating for something that you will never be able to have,” Hallie advises. Melody Wilding, a licensed therapist and master coach, suggests researching the opposing party to figure out what they're truly able to offer you. That way, you can avoid pushing them too far. “Recognize their best alternative and what they’re working with,” she says. Pushing for more than someone can give could offend them, especially if they've already tried to meet you in the middle. 

3. Don't compromise your values

Before you back down from a negotiation, Melody suggests asking yourself two questions: What will happen if I don’t take this risk—is that okay with me? What is the worst that could happen if I go for it? Negotiation can get personal pretty quickly. “No matter what you're negotiating, it's really about bigger issues—identity issues, beliefs about ourselves, how the world should operate and our values. Your wants and needs are being put up against another’s. You have to put your own self-development first because no one else is going to do it for you.” 

4. Speak up anytime

You don’t have to wait until your performance review to negotiate your salary. “If something has happened to change things in your current position—a change in job title, additional responsibilities or a merger, for example—that is an acceptable time to negotiate your salary or even benefits in some cases,” Hallie says. “Keep a running list of work accomplishments, including measurable results,” she also suggests. “If there is a reason to go to the table, go to the table, as long as there's a material change to your job or responsibilities.” 

5. “No” doesn’t have to mean "no"

“‘No’ is an opportunity, not an ending. Think of a ‘no’ as instructive. Is it really a ‘no' or just lack of interest today? Sleuth out any situational barriers,” Melody says. “Staying engaged after you get a ‘no' shows you're resilient and a true leader.” It’s important to continue to take initiative without bothering the other party. “You don't want to make them feel hassled by negotiating too often. If someone tells you no, ask when you could meet again, and agree on a time frame,” Hallie advises.


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Images courtesy of Ivanka Trump. Photographer: Kenneth Grzymala