The Art of Negotiation

There are few dances between two parties as calculating, nerve wracking and exhilarating as the dance of negotiation. It is a frenzy to acquire as much as you can without being unreasonable or deemed by the opposing party as unrealistic or uncompromising. This often plays out in our careers as we negotiate our contracts.

In getting into the arena of negotiations there are a number of things to consider in being successful. The first for would be to speak up. Many of us seem to accept whatever is offered to us without so much as a question raised. Silence does us no favours. Whether we are ecstatic at the proposition placed on the table or deeply disappointed we must voice our concerns and advocate for ourselves. If the number seems right or is way below what you would even consider there  is no harm in asking: “is this the best we can do? “ You have the offer there in black and white the worst case scenario is that you will revert back to what has been initially offered. You cannot allow fear and insecurity to make you shy away from supporting your financial interests. You will also garner greater confidence in posing this question if you are able to get a market related indication of what to expect from a cost to company perspective. This can be done by engaging a number of recruitment personnel or using the internet.

When you have a market related idea of salary make sure you request a dummy payslip. This helps to see if your actual take home is worth the change in role and the additional responsibility. It enables you to have a very clear understanding of how much your take home will be post the deductions.

There are some deductions you can potentially negotiate such as medical deductions. If you can prove that you have your own medical aid prior to joining you can more often than not negotiate that it doesn’t form part of your cost to company. You need to do some research to see which medical option has both the best benefits and affordability, as well as be more cost effective if you pay or if your employer does.

Another tool which could potentially have positive impact in your take home is a sign on bonus.

It never hurts to ask: “What is the sign on bonus” usually it comes with a guaranteed period which you can’t leave the company or you will be liable to repay it back. You may not always get what you request but it is always worth asking your Human Resources Business Partner. The worst case scenario will be a polite “we don’t currently offer a sign on bonus for that role.” You will be in no worse a position should they decline but in a more positive cash flow position should they agree to your request.

One of the least used and most advantageous tools is equity. We often are able to use this as our biggest bargaining chip for listed companies. In requesting shares and trying to negotiate where possible their vesting period you can in the long term help increase your Net Asset Value if they perform well over time. Companies are often more willing to negotiate on equity versus cash.

You must remember that the engagement of a negotiation is not a dictatorship nor is it a one sided conversation. Step into this arena with the confidence and knowledge of your own worthiness. You provide a valuable service and as such need to be compensated accordingly. You need to confidently answer the question…Is this the best I can do for me? So when the music starts and the dance of negotiation commences you are rhythmic in doing the best you can do for yourself.

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