How does abundance look like, for you? Photo by Melissa Maples.

What does abundance look like for you? Photo by Melissa Maples.

What if you accepted the first offer for a new job without even blinking an eye at the lower-than-market salary figure. Worse yet, what if you didn’t even know you lowballed yourself? I’ve made this costly mistake a few times early in my career.

Did you lose this negotiation by forfeit?
Does the thought of leaving money on the table piss you off?

Nobody wants to be a loser. Especially in our culture that loves to herald winning and success, negotiating can feel like a precarious walk on the fine line between failing / losing and winning / succeeding.

No wonder so many of us are reluctant and anxious to negotiate. If you want to stay safe, it’s tempting to not take action and don’t assume any risks. Settle for no risk and no reward.

On the flip side, the fixation with winning, and doing all you can — employing tricks and even manipulating the other side — to ensure you don’t lose a negotiation certainly doesn’t help. I don’t encourage it. It can kill deals, bankrupt relationships and ruin reputations.

There’s more to negotiating than a battle of wits and words that results in losers and winners.
In fact, the more I learn the more I see that the art and science of negotiation are based on surprisingly simple communication tools that help us connect rather than combat with each other.

Consider the fact that experts in both win-win (or interest-based bargaining) and win-lose (distributive bargaining) camps suggest that you ask open-ended questions to uncover the underlying interests, fears and desires of the other side.

The secret sauce is in asking questions that start with why, how, what, who, when and where. With an open mind and in a nurturing manner. You do this to get deeper past stated positions, or what people say they want, and into interests, or the silent drivers making them say what they want.

You go deeper.

Then both camps also agree you’ll need to come up with creative solutions that satisfy the interests of both sides. Once you understand what drives, motivates and irks your negotiation partner, you’ll see the full picture and generate new solutions. You’ll also put on the table all other possible negotiables (a special perk, benefits, or new features) and prioritize them according to your needs, values, and intention.

First you go deeper, then you go wider.

The outcome may not be black and white, entirely win-win or win-lose.

In practical terms, this gives you room to negotiate again or renegotiate in the future. This creates opportunities for even more value and better outcomes. I believe a good negotiation results in abundance, not a losing game.

How does this apply in real life?

For instance, if you didn’t negotiate your salary before starting a new job, and you hit the ground running, proving yourself to be a competent hire, then you can renegotiate. There’s no upside in allowing yourself to be undervalued, because it can lead to resentment that eventually saps your motivation to work and do it well. You might end up hating it so much that you find another job.

It’s in the employer’s interest to retain and keep you motivated. Consider the fact they’ve already invested thousands of dollars to recruit, vet, hire and train you (Studies cite retention costs within a range between 50% – 150% of a hire’s annual salary). If you are a good fit, it makes better sense for the employer to up your pay by an increment or two rather than let a big investment of time and money walk out the door. So your renegotiating your salary would in fact be a beneficial solution for you and for your employer.

I’ve left jobs that left me feeling under-appreciated and over-worked. I’ve also renegotiated my salary for a $15,000 raise. If you are adding value, there’s always room to re-negotiate, to add more value and abundance.

So go deep, go wide. Make your ask and make abundance happen.