Salary Negotiations

Posted Thursday, February 22, 2018.


Getting a “That’s right” or variant thereof is the tactical empathy you need to position yourself for a raise.  Position yourself for a raise early.  Ask for it after you’ve shown yourself trustworthy and competent. 

Bosses reward people they trust and who are effective. And when in doubt . . . They lean towards those they trust.

Here’s how to achieve [trust and proof of your effectiveness]. 

Schedule a meeting with your boss. Tell him “I’m sure this is going to make me seem oblivious . . . (effective pause) . . . I want to make sure I’m doing the best for you I can be.”

(That statement expresses tactical empathy and helps you get most quickly to where you want to go.)

Eric Barker tells us to think regarding “deep work” and “shallow work.” (Eric Barker’s book “Barking Up The Wrong Tree” [and his blog] should be part of your success library. It’s outstanding.)

When the meeting begins, ask, “What’s the deep work you need me to do? What’s the work that when I do it, it most advances the company’s primary objectives?”

Make sure you summarize his answer.  [with a sentence like this, “so, what you’re saying is (and then summarize what he just said)].  Get a “that’s right” out of him before you move on.

At this point, there’s a good chance the conversation will turn towards your boss guiding you to focus more and more of your time on deep work. You will be exactly where you want to be: on the path to success (if you do what he just outlined). 

You have to create the opportunity for this to happen. The “that’s right” response is always that bridge of empathy that leads you to where you want to go. Like any negotiation, success is getting your counterpart to vocalize your solution (the art of letting the other side have your way). If it’s “their” idea, it’s got to be brilliant, right?

“How much do you want me focused on the deep work that really gets us to where we are going?”

This is a powerful “How?” question. People love to be asked, “how.” The beauty of this is it moves your boss to focus you on the work that will get you ahead.

Summarize to “that’s right” here. This response will give you a clear picture of your future if you actually listen to it.


Chris Voss, an ex-FBI hostage negotiator, gives excellent advice on how to ask for a raise without getting demoted or fired.  Watch this short video.

What follows are my transcripted notes of his presentation:

You want to push your opponent to the highest limit of a negotiation range without taking them out of the comfort of that range. 

People respond to ranges where they won’t respond to specific numbers. 

When they ask you how much you’re looking for, your first response to that should be “Are you making me an offer or are you just fishing?” Give them an opportunity to respond to that.  Again, when they ask you about salary expectations, say, “I am sure you have a range in mind.”  Take the end of it that favors you.  They’ll actually feel somewhat relieved that you’ll want to stay at that number.

If they’ve given you a number that doesn’t work for you, the first response is the world-class way of saying “No” and keeping the conversation going, “How am I supposed to accept that?”  which lets them know that it’s really a problem for you.  You’ve empowered them by giving them the opportunity to make it better.  Always important in any negotiation to be able to say “No” pleasantly.  So be pleasant. They’re going to evaluate you in a job negotiation about how well you can represent them!  and represent their interests and be pleasant while you’re doing it.

Gary North has good insight on how to deal with employers and raises.  Check this out . . .

Do not expect to be appreciated. If they are not giving regular raises, you are not appreciated. If they are loading on extra hours, you are not appreciated. You are simply a pack mule. You will be exploited, not appreciated.

This is why you have to be working systematically to develop your reputation outside the business. You have to let them know that they do not have their clamps on you. If they think that you have no alternatives for employment, they will treat you unmercifully. Expect this. It is standard operating procedure in business today. They don’t expect loyalty on any basis except this: fear. They don’t offer loyalty, and they don’t expect it. This was not true a generation ago, but it is true today.

When the bean counters from the business schools began to take over American business in the 1970’s, that ended loyalty downward. On this point, you would be wise to read The Puritan Gift. It shows the world we have lost. I don’t think we’re going to get it back. We may get it back in small, upstart businesses, but not in a business that has been operating for more than 40 years.