Preparing For Your Next Negotiation

Preparing For Your Next Negotiation

Email 6 mins

Something Major CEO and Founder, Randi Braun, shares her secrets for a successful negotiation – Knowing Your Worth & Getting It – in this two part series. 

Part Two: Getting It

Early in my career, I got a fantastic piece of advice: Getting good at anything is like learning how to fly a plane. You have to clock a certain amount of hours before you can graduate from First Officer to Captain.

I don’t know how to fly a plane, but I do know how to talk about money. Growing up professionally first in fundraising and then business development and sales, I clocked a lot of hours negotiating and I got really good at talking about money. 

Here’s the problem: Often when it comes time for us to negotiate, too many of us just haven’t put in the flying hours and that is not empowering. 

Not to mention the power dynamics that come into play as we climb the corporate ladder. When the stakes are high and the practice reps are low, it can make an already nerve-wracking situation even more stressful. 

Don’t panic: this is your captain speaking and there is no need to assume the brace position. With tens of millions of dollars in generated revenue under my belt, I’ve put in the flying hours for you—including a few botched take-offs and rough landings—so you can be smooth sailing in no time. Step inside my cockpit and let me show you how all these dials and knobs work. 


Before we take-off, consider these four questions to consider before you next negotiation: 


1. Setting your destination: Are you asking to be “right-sized” or for a “raise”? These are completely different things. A few years ago, a mentee wanted advice about asking her boss for a raise. The only Latina woman on her team, she had just found out she was being paid $10,000 less than all three of her male colleagues. She didn’t need a raise; she needed to get right-sized.

What’s the difference? A raise is a merit-based increase in compensation as a reward for excellent performance. A “right-sizing” is having your organization rescope your compensation to properly align with your current responsibilities and/or organizational benchmarks. When we come to our employers to get “right-sized” we put the burden on them for righting a wrong or realigning an inconsistency. When we ask for a raise, we’re asking for an increase in compensation based on our value and/or contributions to our organization. These are different destinations with different routes, but if we don’t know where we’re going, we won’t know how to get there and we may end up flying coach to get there when we could have flown first class. 


2. Charting your course: How can you ensure secure conditions?

(A) What are you hoping to make in this next role? I absolutely, positively hate this question.  It puts you in a position to negotiate against yourself. In my view, there is only one answer to this question: I assume you have a budget already allocated for this role; would you mind sharing that with me and I can let you know if this is within my ballpark, understanding it’s part of a broader compensation package? 

I have never met a hiring manager who went to the marketplace with a role but no budget allocation. If they refuse to answer this question, proceed calmly and swiftly to the nearest exit and proceed down the yellow slide to safety. This plane is not fit to fly.

(B) What did you make in your last role? Another question I hate! No wonder it’s illegal in nearly half the states in the U.S. See above for the same exact talk track. Whether it’s illegal or not in your state, you never have to answer this question. EVER. 


3. Manage Turbulence: Are you willing to get uncomfortable? Many of us were praised for being “hard workers and problem solvers.” As “pleasers” we were taught to be grateful, not to rock the boat, and to reduce tension. Here’s the thing: the ability to be uncomfortable and sit in tension is one of the most important elements of a successful negotiation. Please refer to your instruction manual for a few Do and Don’t tips for holding tension:

– Don’t be afraid to sit in silence after you ask a question or state a request. This creates leverage that forces them to respond instead of side-stepping the issue. Hit the mute button if you must to control yourself from breaking an uncomfortable silence and whatever you do…  

– Don’t undermine yourself by breaking silence or saying something along the lines of “If you can’t do that, it’s not really a dealbreaker.” Pro tip: organizations will save every penny they can for the people who are willing to walk if they don’t get what they want. So don’t put your pennies in somebody else’s piggy bank. 

– Do be prepared to have multiple conversations. Most negotiations require a series of conversations. Go into those conversations with that confidence that this is a predictable part of a process. So don’t let that intimidate you, and, to that end…

– Do co-design next steps at the end of each conversation. As you are wrapping up a conversation and you get a “we’ll have to run the numbers/check with Finance/get back to you” do take time to design a plan of who owes who what in follow up and when you can expect to reconnect. Then do reconnect at the designated time about status updates. 

– Do make sure you have documentation. Unless it’s documented (and in most cases, signed) the organization does not owe it to you. I’ll repeat this: if it’s not in writing, it’s not happening—no matter how much they “promise” verbally what comes in 6 months/12 months/2 years. 


4. Prepare for Landing: How will you prepare for the conversation? According to some experts, the prep for a negotiation is where up to 80% of the work comes in. Make an internal checklist to be sure you’ve got all your bases covered. As you prepare for the conversation make sure you have an outline of your requests, a clear list of what is non-negotiable for you, a list of your questions for them to answer, and an ideal timeline for co-designing net steps.  


With that, please stow your tray table, return your seat to its upright and locked position, and stow larger electronic items like laptops. Thank you for flying with us today and I look forward to landing you at your goals shortly.

This material is not intended as investment advice and is not meant to suggest that any securities are suitable investments for any particular investor. Investment advice is only provided to Aura customers. All investments are subject to risk and may lose value. Past performance is not indicative of future results.