Negotiating at Work

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Negotiating is a form of conflict resolution. It’s when two or more people want different outcomes in a particular situation and they meet to discuss possible solutions. It if works, it can end in one of three ways:

  • Win-win (the solution is acceptable to both parties)
  • Compromise (each party gets some of what they wanted but had to give up on some things to reach an agreement)
  • Win-lose (the solution is acceptable to one party but not the other)

If negotiation fails you end up with a stand-off, where neither person is prepared to change their point of view. Then you’re back to where you started and will have to find another way to solve the problem. But hopefully if you’re a good negotiator this won’t happen!

When to negotiate

There are lots of situations that you can negotiate at work. You might already have negotiated something and not even realised you were doing it!

Most negotiations at work will take place between you and your employer. Here are some typical examples:

  • You think you’re being underpaid
  • You want to change your shifts or rostered day off
  • You want to quit your job immediately even though your contract states you have to work until the end of your notice period

How to negotiate

You need three things to be a good negotiator:

  • Power: the ability to be persuasive and to understand all your options in the situation
  • Time: being aware of the time you and the other party have to solve the problem
  • Information: knowing what the other party wants and what they will be prepared to give you

When negotiating there are some things you can do to help make the process easier:

  • Be assertive not aggressive
  • Don’t take anything personally, focus on the issues you’re discussing
  • Ask for clarification if you don’t understand what the other person is offering
  • Try to show that you are listening and let the other person know when you understand or agree with the points they’re making
  • Be patient and flexible