Negotiating your salary

Salary negotiations are one type of negotiation most working people will enter several times in their lives. At some point, you will want to negotiate a raise or a starting salary or even a multi-year contract.

Salary negotiations are a fine example of the importance of power in a negotiation. When you are asking for a raise, the power may rest with your boss instead of you. How can you help distribute the power more equally?

In an article on the Harvard Business Review blogs, “Negotiate Where You Want to Get What you Want”, Markus Baer and Graham Brown argue that location is a very important factor in salary negotiations. One place where you will be at a disadvantage is in your boss’ office. According to their research:

…residents of an office space — even after only 20 minutes of residing in a space — were able to claim as much as 160% more value in a distributive (“You win, I lose”) negotiation than the visiting party. And it is not only that residents do better when negotiating on their turf. Our study also revealed that entering someone else’s office space causes us to do worse.

Clearly, to do better in salary negotiation you have to take the discussion out from the office to a more neutral spot—perhaps the conference room or a coffee shop. If this is impossible, then you will have to work on increasing your power and confidence. To do that, research as much as you can about salaries in your field, and be prepared to back up your claims.

What do you suggest to people negotiating for a higher salary?

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