As many of us transition back to more traditional office settings and new ways of working, we’re also figuring out what we need and want in order to do our jobs while feeling safe and fulfilled. Over the last 18 months, our priorities may have shifted, and we may even feel like we’re not the same people we were when we left our desks back in March 2020.
So, how do you take control of your current reality and your new expectations?
You may need to negotiate.
Thinking about negotiating with a boss (or anyone for that matter) can send chills down the spine of even the most seasoned conversationalist. But, negotiation, when approached with a plan, has the potential to not only give you your desired outcome, but also empower others around you.
There are a range of things you may be negotiating: your salary, days you’ll be working from home, a promotion, taking on a new project or assignment. But regardless of the goal, there are 5 key steps to getting what you need in any negotiation.
1. Understand what you are asking for and why
This step is for you and you alone. Take some time to think deeply about what exactly you need and the “why” behind it. Picture yourself after successfully negotiating for your request to motivate you to take on the task ahead. Doing so will not only inspire you, but also help you know yourself: how open you are to an alternative outcome if things don’t pan out the way you expect?
2. Be prepared
To prepare for your meeting with your boss, you need to understand what they need to be convinced in order to say “yes” to your request. Strategize your approach to include the information or context you would need to share in order to build your case.
Having thought through your strategy will also give you time to brainstorm clear responses to any pushback you might get, helping you feel prepared and confident.
3. Understand your decision maker’s motivations
Although you want to focus on what you’re asking for and why, be sure to also consider their perspective. Help your decision-maker to help you by assisting them in seeing what is in it for them to support your request. The more you can keep your negotiation a “win-win” scenario, the better chances you have of achieving your desired outcome.
Furthermore, it may help to think about the ways that your proposal not only benefits you and your manager, but also the rest of your team. Depending on the request, you may be able to help advocate for others’ needs. For example, if you need to change your work hours, you may find that a lot of other people in your office need this set-up too, but don’t have the courage to voice it. By finding consensus and speaking on behalf of what others also need, your actions will benefit everyone.
When a woman is in her power, she raises everyone around her.
4. Remain true to who you are
We’re living in a new normal. There’s an expectation for managers to accommodate the needs of their employees and to support them to do their best work. Feel emboldened to ask for what you need if it will really enable you to work better with your clients, your customers or your stakeholders.
Come from strength, even when asking for accommodation. Take a stand for yourself. Once in the discussion, stick to your boundaries and expectations. Remind yourself that you are going to need to live with the consequences of the conversation (good or bad), so do not feel compelled to match their energy if things take a turn.
If the conversation is not going the way you want it to go, suggest a break and then a regroup.
5. Evaluate the outcome and make a plan
Did you get a yes?
Congratulations! Thank your manager and show them how you are going to leverage the new benefit you negotiated for. Remind yourself of this moment in the future when other uncomfortable situations arise. This conversation is your validation that you can step into your power, speak up for what you want and make things happen.
Was the response less than you were hoping for, or an outright “No”?
This outcome is okay and does not mean you should regret speaking up. You now have more information at your disposal. Take a pause. Then, when you feel ready, evaluate the conversation. Try to see if you can understand their position. Did you get any information in this conversation to help you adjust your case? What was the concern behind the “No” that will enable you to re-approach and problem-solve collaboratively? Is there someone else you can consult for advice? Use this as an opportunity to take a different approach.
Ultimately, you – and everyone around you – will have been made all the better for you having spoken your truth and voiced what you need. Celebrate yourself.