Get the upper hand in one of the most nerve-wracking conversations of all.
Negotiating your salary at a new job or with your current employer can be incredibly nerve-wracking, particularly for people who haven't done it before.
It's a necessary activity, however, since avoiding it can cost as much as $1 million over the course of your career, according to an analysis by Salary.com. But knowing that doesn't make it any easier.
At the same time, a lot of the advice on how to negotiate effectively can be contradictory or clichéd. That's why we've looked at the research and collected some of the surprising strategies and techniques that can lead to a higher salary.
1. Open with something personal
In an experiment in the US where Kellogg and Stanford college students negotiated by email, those who shared unrelated personal details over the course of the negotiation ended up getting significantly better results than those who kept things to name, email and the dry monetary details.
Opening up a bit sends a signal that you're trustworthy, according to Wharton professor Adam Grant, and makes it more likely that they'll reciprocate.
2. Think of the negotiation as a competition
In most salary negotiations, you're trying to get something the other party doesn't want to give you. That makes it a competition, and viewing it that way leads to better results, according to research from George Mason and Temple university professors Michelle Marks and Crystal Harold.
People who use a competitive strategy, by identifying their goals and being willing to push for them, end up with significantly higher salaries than those who are accommodative or compromising.
3. Make the first offer
Conventional wisdom is that you should wait for the other party to make the initial offer in order to get more information to act on.
It's actually much better to make the first offer because you get to set the "anchor", the figure that affects the trajectory of the negotiation. People who make very high first offers end up with a much better result.
The first offer pulls the other person in its direction, and it's difficult to adjust the other way.
4. Always use precise numbers
Most people are familiar with the advice to start with a high number, but new research from Columbia Business School suggests that a precise number makes a more powerful anchor in negotiations. That means replacing at least a few of the zeros in a round offer such as $100,000 and going for $104,500.
According to Malia Mason, the author of the study, a precise number leads the other party to think that you've done research to arrive at a very particular number, which makes them think you're likely correct.
5. Get them to talk about themselves
While you clearly want to make an assertive case for your position, there's an advantage to getting your negotiating partner to talk about themselves.
According to Harvard neuroscientist Diana Tamir, the author of a recent study on the neurological effects of talking about yourself, it can trigger the same sensations of pleasure as food or money.
5. Don't look for a win-win
There's an impulse when entering a negotiation to find a solution that makes both parties happy. Seeking a win-win from the start means giving something up without necessarily getting anything in return, except perhaps feeling a bit better.
According to a recent study, people who seek out a win-win feel better, but end up doing worse in salary negotiations than those who seek a win-lose. Those negotiators may feel worse, but they end up with a higher salary.
6. Rank your priorities, and share them
“In a job offer negotiation, for example, you might say that salary is most important to you, followed by location, and then vacation time and signing bonus,” Wharton university Professor Adam Grant writes. “Research shows that rank-ordering is a powerful way to help your counterparts understand your interests without giving away too much information.”
Then follow up by asking them for their priorities, and look for mutually beneficial trade-offs on the most important issues.
7. Don't go face to face until you have to
Generally, if you're asking for a higher salary, you are not in the position of power. The person who is hiring you or determining your raise is in control. They have to agree to the number in the end, and they usually have more power over your career and work environment at the organisation.
In face-to-face negotiations, research finds that the more powerful person will usually win out. If you're negotiating with your boss, you have a better chance when negotiations are conducted over the phone or via email.
8. Put all concerns you have on the table
When getting an offer, many people want to seem happy, to avoid looking too needy or disappointed. They might bring up a problem or two, but gloss over other issues that end up coming up later.
That drives hiring managers crazy, according to Harvard professor Deepak Malhotra. The best strategy is to reveal all of your concerns at once, and note which ones are most important, so you can work through them.
9. Be a bit unpredictable
The default for negotiations is a relatively level and less emotional approach, an attempt to be as rational as possible. But injecting some passion and unpredictability can create an advantage.
A study from Columbia Business School professor Adam Galinsky found that emotional inconsistency from negotiators leads to greater concessions from the other party because they feel less in control of the situation.
Expressing anger, alternating between anger and happiness, and alternating between anger and disappointment all yielded bigger concessions.
10. Have a shot of espresso a bit before you start
When you drink coffee, you're more likely to stick to your guns in a negotiation, according to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology.
Preparing to negotiate after drinking something with caffeine made people more resistant to persuasion. Willingness to hold firm to your attitudes makes it more likely you'll achieve the goal you came in with.