Getting A Raise Or Better Offer: The Script

We teach negotiation strategies and tactics. We say "anchor high" (make the first offer and make it aspirational); plan your concessions in advance, giving yourself at least three concessions before hitting your bottom line; and, stress how difficult it is to give up a deal point.

We tell our clients to strongly suggest that your bargaining partner reciprocate the difficult concessions you're making; to open with the benefit you provide before asking for anything for yourself; to frame your strengths and your offer or counter in a way that meets their needs, desires, concerns, preferences, and priorities; and, to talk about your market value or value in the hands of your employer rather than about what you "deserve."

Still, at the end of all this good advice, both men and women ask but what do I say? How do I begin? What if they say "no"? What do I do then? What if they get angry? What if I'm just at a loss for words? What if they withdraw the offer? Can I say "ok, I'll take your first offer" then? I'm nervous. I've never negotiated anything before. I'm afraid I'll just blank out or they'll intimidate me. I get sweaty palms and butterflies in the stomach. What if, what if what if . . .

We All Feel This Way

Please understand that all these questions go on inside all of our heads no matter who we are, how skilled we are, how much experience we have, and how bold we tend to be in "real life."

This is just the risk-averse, water-saving, food-hoarding, blessings-counting part of ourselves. It's saved our ass before and it's good to listen to its advice because it's nobody's fool. It is our fight-flight mechanism. It is intuitive. It's the reason our ancestors' genetic material has made it all the way from the time we lived in caves and hunted saber tooth tigers until that ancient DNA and our frisky parents created us.

As important as our instincts are, they are no match for our higher executive functions. The thinking and yes, scheming, parts of our brain that read and analyze, ask questions, plan for the future, imagine a better, stronger, wealthier family, teach our children how to read and write and dance, and negotiate our relationship with every other creature on the planet we encounter on a daily basis.

Still, You Need a Script

There isn't a single client for whom we haven't provided a script. A script to ask for three more months on the job before the lay-off is effective. A script to ask for a million dollar annual salary in response to a $300,000 offer (this one landed at $800,000). A script to ask the questions necessary to understand why a Goliath player is so eager to buy David's small gym. A script to resolve a conflict between business partners.

A script to open the salary conversation.

We're always happy to find other negotiators writing scripts for their clients. Here, for example, is the beginning of a terrific salary negotiation script by Rebecca Thorman, The Exact Words to Use When Negotiating Salary.

"I'm really excited to work here, and I know that I will bring a lot of value. I appreciate the offer at $58,000, but was really expecting to be in the $65,000 range based on my experience, drive, and performance. Can we look at a salary of $65,000 for this position?"

Employers may balk to start. It's in their interest not to pay you more of course, and get you to work at the lowest possible salary. So, expect initial rejections, like:

"So glad to hear you're looking forward to working with us. We're really looking forward to having you. The salary we offered is what we have budgeted for the position and we feel it's a fair compensation."

This may sound like it's the end of the conversation, but it's not—don't back down! The key here is to continue to show your enthusiasm and stay confident in your abilities. Try:

Read on here.

See, that wasn't so hard after all. Go get 'em. Corporate America is sitting on piles of cash and you've been working without a raise or for 2-3% raises throughout the jobless recovery. Don't tell you employer you deserve it but know that you deserve it.