Why the “Why” is Important to Demonstrate in a Negotiation

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If you’re trying to convince someone you’re intrinsically and financially worth more, how do you do it? How do you negotiate a raise or a promotion? Sara Laschever—a negotiation coach and author—emphasizes that you have to prove why you deserve a raise by demonstrating your “why”.

Demonstrating your “why”

Sara is adamant that you can’t go into a negotiation and say, “I’m worth more.” Instead, go in and say, “If you give me what I want, it will be good for you.” Demonstrating your why by showing that you’ll be able to hit targets, make them look good, and lead an initiative that’s close to your heart. Prove that you’ll give 150% to make an initiative succeed.

You can share your experience at another job that’s similar to what you want to implement and share how successful it was. You can show that it aligns with the company’s strategies, performance targets, etc. You can’t just demand that they give you something because you deserve it. They need to believe that it’s good for them.

Get your boss to see your viewpoint

If you get pushback on your request, Sara points out that you have to get the other person to identify with you. How can you help them see your perspective?

  • “If you were in my shoes, that’s what you would want, right?”
  • “If you were in my shoes and you hadn’t negotiated, and you realized that was a mistake, you’d wanna ask your boss to help you make up the difference.”
  • “If you were in my shoes and had done all this work, what would you want?”

They need to know that they are like you. To get someone to feel like they’re like you is to get them to see your perspective.

Roleplay as part of the preparation process

When it comes down to it, the best way to prepare for any negotiation—including one over a salary or promotion—is roleplaying. The first reason is that you don’t know how you’re going to say something until you articulate it aloud. Public speakers rehearse because they want to speak well. So practice saying the thing you want to say, especially when the stakes are high.

It’s great to get together with someone you trust and brief them thoroughly on what you’re worried about. Then you can play through the negotiation and ask the other person to push your buttons. The goal is to insult you, make you mad, or attempt to bring out whatever you’re worried about. It allows you to practice calm responses to move toward collaborative problem-solving.

The best part of roleplaying is when and if that emotion gets triggered in the actual negotiation, it won’t surprise you because you already experienced it in the roleplay. It’s the surprise that can derail the negotiation and cause you to leave value behind.

Spoken language versus written language

Roleplaying helps you develop self-awareness. You can learn what your trigger points are, so you can better prepare for them in the future. I always advise people that writing it down isn’t enough. You won’t know why you’re saying something without practicing. You must deliver your words with intention. If you don’t practice what you’ll say, you can say things you shouldn’t have that can reduce your leverage. In turn, that reduces your ability to generate value.

Spoken language is different from written language. When you have a perfect argument written out and try to say it out loud, you’ll often stumble. When you roleplay, you’ll learn to say it in a more conversational and friendly way. Women can come off as intimidating, threatening, cold, etc., if they can’t deliver their responses in a friendly manner.

It all comes back to the why. If you can roleplay and nail down demonstrating your “why” effectively, you’ll find more success in your negotiations. For even more tips and tactics, listen to Negotiations Ninja episode #258 with Sara Laschever. She shares the most effective way women can negotiate for a successful outcome!