Today Taunee Besson, an expert on career transitions and President and Principal Consultant at Dallas-based Career Dimensions, shares advice on how to negotiate effectively. Read on for sound guidance on preparing for and carrying out negotiations over job offers and throughout your career. — Maurice Gilbert
In reality, a successful negotiation is a communication process whereby both parties strive for a mutually satisfying result. A good negotiator doesn’t want a defeated opponent seeking revenge at a later date. He knows win-win negotiations build relationships for the long haul.
All of us must be prepared to negotiate for what we want. Below are some tips for negotiating effectively throughout your career:
Negotiating is a process, not an event.
• Successful professionals take responsibility for what they want and how to achieve it. They recognize that partnering with management, colleagues and employees is a smart career strategy.
• If you want your manager solidly in your corner, schedule regular conferences with him to:
— Document your achievements
— Discuss ways to improve your performance
— Create goals and action plans
— Compare planned versus actual results
— Ask for a mentor’s advice.
• When a fire flares, confront it immediately yourself or call for reinforcements before it becomes four-alarm.
• Whether or not you like all the members on your team, give 100 percent and refrain from disparaging any fellow players.
• Explain to your management, peers and subordinates what you need from them. While your needs may be intuitively obvious to you, your associates aren’t mind readers.
Negotiation requires preparation. Spontaneity is strictly for the pros.
Negotiating doesn’t come easily to most of us. To make the most of your negotiations, answer these questions ahead of time:
• What specific outcome do I hope to achieve?
• What are several options I would find acceptable?
• How will these options benefit the other negotiating parties and their constituents?
• What objections might they have to my suggestions? How can I alleviate their concerns?
• How much leverage do I have? Am I bargaining from a position of strength or weakness?
• How might external variables such as timing, politics, traditions, the opponent’s negotiating style and economic conditions affect my argument? Which ones can I use to bolster my case?
When you are sitting across the negotiating table, keep these key points in mind.
A negotiating session can be both stressful and emotional. You will be much more likely to achieve a successful outcome and build respect and collegiality with your fellow negotiators if you:
• Ask for 100 percent of what you want, if you think it’s a genuinely fair request.
• Listen carefully to what the other parties are saying. They may have excellent suggestions you haven’t considered.
• Separate opinions from fact. Don’t let your perceptions dictate your reality.
• Maintain your perspective. This conversation may be important, but it isn’t life or death.
• Avoid ultimatums unless you fully intend to act upon them. Bluffing may be a great poker strategy, but it’s a deadly negotiating ploy.
• Always work for a win-win solution. Otherwise you may win the battle, but lose the war.
Taunee Besson, CMF, is president of Career Dimensions, Inc., a consulting firm founded in 1979, which works with individual and corporate clients in career change; job search; executive, small business and life coaching; college major selection and talent management.
“One of the smartest minds in the career field,” according to Tony Lee (VP of CareerCast Operations at Adicio and former publisher of the Wall Street Journal’s Online Vertical Network), Besson began writing for the Dallas Times Herald in the early 80s. Having read several of her columns, Lee asked her to contribute regular articles to the Journal’s National Business Employment Weekly (NBEW) as well. Since then, she has been a triple award-winning columnist for CareerJournal.com and Senior Columnist for CareerCast.com, as well as WorkingWoman.com and Oxygen.com. At Lee’s request, Besson authored five editions of NBEW’s Premier Guide to Resumes and three of its Premier Guide to Cover Letters. She has also written articles and/or been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Business Week, Time, Smart Money and Yahoo among others.
Taunee has worked on community nonprofit boards and committees for over 30 years including Girls Inc., Women’s Center of Dallas, Girl Scouts and Dallas Women’s Foundation, The Volunteers of America and Mortarboard, among others. She was a member of the Leadership Dallas in 1987 and Leadership America in 2003.
In 1994, the Dallas Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development chose her as its “Professional of the Year”. Her NBEW columns were selected for the “Ten Best Article Award” in 1990, 1994 and 1997. In 1999, Alpha Gamma Delta, a 200,000 member fraternal organization, named her as one of three “Distinguished Citizens” at its biannual international convention.
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