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Fine Tune Your Workplace Negotiation Skills

Fine-Tune Your Workplace Negotiation Skills

When you receive your first job offer and meet with your employers to negotiate the terms of your agreement, you’ll engage a conversation that can influence your pay rate for the next several years, and may even set the standard for your next job (and the next) after you leave this company. So the pressure is on. But your work isn’t over after your first big negotiation. In fact, every day when you step into this workplace (and the next), you’ll need to use your words to defend your ideas, convince others to take action, and make your voice heard during group discussions. Here are a few negotiation tips that can help.

Keep your words clear and simple.

Before you head into battle, so to speak, clarify your own goals. If you do this first, you’ll have an easier time achieving these goals and getting your message across. If you know exactly what you’d like to say, or do, or have done by others, you’ll find it easier to keep your message short, simple, memorable, and convincing.

If you’re shut down, don’t stay down.

Too often, managers and coworkers feel overwhelmed by too much information, too many streams of input, and too many simultaneous demands on their time and attention. This is why your boss may reflexively dismiss your idea or your first request for a raise or promotion. If you hear a quick “We just can’t do it right now”, or “Why don’t we talk about this next month?”, or “I don’t think so,” don’t take this as a hard no. Be polite, but firm, and make sure your boss knows that this issue can’t be waved away.

Bring givebacks and prepare alternative plans.

Negotiations (unlike poker games) aren’t won or lost in a single hand. If your first exchange doesn’t instantly deliver flawless victory, be ready for round two. For example, if you request a raise or promotion and your boss says no, don’t just slink back to your desk and close the books on the subject. Instead, start looking for opportunities outside of the company so you gain leverage and the ability to press your case. Givebacks are also important during the negotiation process; if you hear a no, come back to the table with an offer—no matter how small—in order to keep the conversation going.


Sometimes the best way to make yourself understood is by striving to understand. As the other person speaks, listen carefully, as if your victory depends on your ability to put yourself in their shoes.
As you get ready to make your case, stay calm and steady and focus on your long term goals. For more on how to gain the support and understanding of others during the negotiation process, reach out to the Little Rock career management experts at CSS.

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