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The Do's and Don’ts of Salary Negotiation

Very few of us are ever directly taught how to negotiate salaries so in this post, we wanted to talk about salary negotiation and how managers and leaders alike can go about this.


According to a study of more than 2,000 professions conducted by LinkedIn (2012) culture determines a large part of how comfortable we are in negotiations.

For example:

  • Germans had the most positive outlook, saying they are excited about negotiating (21%) and felt confident (43%).

  • Indians were the most confident about negotiating (47%).

  • South Koreans were the most indifferent about negotiating (21%).

  • Americans were the most anxious about negotiating (39%).

  • Brazilians were the most likely to be frightened by negotiating (21%).

If your background is from a culture where negotiations are uncommon, you are more likely to feel apprehensive about it, and thus make it harder when it comes to salary negotiations.

Prep for the discussion

If you think you’ve found the best candidate for the position, it’s time to extend an offer, hopefully one attractive enough to be accepted. Before beginning the salary negotiation, make sure you have a clear understanding of both parties’ objectives – negotiate a fair and reasonable, market-based compensation package that is competitive based on the unique set of skills required of the new employee, while also being fiscally responsible to your organisation.

The overall package

Starting pay rates are always high on the list of reasons potential employees accept or decline a job offer. However, there are also other components of an offer that should be considered too, especially if you are limited in salary cap. For example, could you perhaps offer a flexible schedule, such as working four 10-hour days with Friday off? Or how about telecommuting? Could employees work from home once or twice a week, that way they could save time and money (in commute costs). The package doesn’t necessarily have to be monetary increases, moreover, people are starting to be encouraged more by flexibility of time.


It can be easy to get emotionally invested when it comes to salary negotiation. Remain calm and keep the conversation professional, while maintaining an open mind. During the discussion, focus on the potential employee’s underlying interests. Pinpoint where interests overlap and work to develop solutions with them as a partner. For example, put yourself in a librarians place. Two visitors to the library, can’t agree. One wants the window open and the other closed. The librarian asks why each wants it closed or open. “To keep the draft out” says one, “to get the air inside” says the other. What would you do as the librarian? One solution would be opening the window in the next room, that way the air could get in and at the same time not let the draft in. Negotiation skills are important life skills, not just in the workplace but in general life. Enlist a friend that you can practice with and poke holes in your delivery. Remember to actively listen, remain calm and answer without ego attached.

Photo by from Pexels

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