I'm a Communication Expert — Utilizing These Tips Will Help You Negotiate Confidently at Work

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Karen Laos10
Communication Expert in San Francisco
May 25, 2024 at 3:20PM UTC

It’s no secret that being able to negotiate well is a coveted skill.

From the time my dad handed me a few dollars at the flea market when I was six years old and told me to go have fun, but never pay full price, my love for the deal was born.

I’ve always believed that I will get what I’m asking for. And you can, too. Whether negotiating for a car, a promotion, or a dining room table at a garage sale, the concepts are the same.

Follow the 3C Negotiation Formula to achieve these goals: Confidence x Clarity x Connection = Jackpot.

First, confidence. 

We must know our worth.

“I called you because you’re not afraid to ask,” said a friend to me in the same week that two others called for the same advice. I know what I’m worth, and I expect to get it. This comes with knowing your value.

What is it that you want? To win that new client you’ve been dreaming of? To get that corner office as vice president? Or simply to get the best deal possible on your Verizon phone plan?

I remember asking Donald Miller, CEO of StoryBrand and Business Made Simple, to endorse my book. It took me more courage than many things I remember because it felt awkward and seemed like a massive and even presumptuous ask because he didn’t know me well. 

The thing is, I took a chance. I believed in myself enough to make the ask. And while he said “no,” he did me one better—he had me on his podcast that gave me much more exposure than a book endorsement. But first, it took the courage to ask.

Second, clarity. 

You need the skill to know what to say and how to say it. Instead of making a selfish ask, make an ask that is others-focused. What’s in it for the person you’re asking? What would make it impossible for them to say “no”? 

Let’s say you want to get promoted. Instead of leading with “I’d like to get promoted,” start with something they care about. Such as “I’d like to grow the accounting department.”

Or perhaps you want someone to volunteer at an event. Instead of, “Would you volunteer at my event?” say, “Would you like to join a movement of empowering college kids?” 

Notice how much more appealing the latter options are. You want to draw them in emotionally and address their needs.

Be succinct and direct. Get to the point quickly. Don't waver. Know what you want, and stick to it.

Thirdly, prioritize connection. 

Be likable. Smile to convey warmth and approachability. Negotiating is about relationships. We do business with people we like. You’re building trust and seeing a path forward for both of you to win.

Sentence prompts to guide you might sound like this:

  • “Can we get closer to …?”

  • “I was looking for the high end of the range…”

  • “What else might you be able to offer?”

  • “I recognize that I’m higher than most…” 

  • “There may be a path to that…”

  • How does that land for you? (Gives them an opportunity to share without making it awkward. It’s an invitation rather than what most people do: gloss over the non-response and ignore it so you never know what they actually think. Those conversations usually end with, “If you’re interested, let me know” or “Send me something, and I’ll think about it,” and you never hear from them again. Asking directly makes all the difference.

What do you do when they say “no”? The best thing you can do is ask questions. Lean into the “no” with curiosity and grace.

  • What is your biggest concern?

  • How far off are we? 

  • Are you open to exploring a different solution that may meet both of our interests?

Some additional tips:

  • If you’re setting the cost, say your price and pause. Be the one who can sit longer in silence. You could ask, “How does that sit with you?”

  • Level-set the conversation so you show you’re not afraid to talk about fees. “We’ll talk about my process and then my fees. How does that sound?” Separate value from the investment by steering the conversation first to the value, and then fees, but acknowledge that fees are part of the conversation. Most people need to understand the value before they can decide on the price.

  • Give them a great experience and lead. Be clear about your process and guide them. “Here’s how people work with me.” Don’t waffle. Be defined.

  • When someone can’t afford your full fee: “There are things other than money that are valuable to me that could make up the compensation. May I share those with you?”

Regardless of the situation, negotiating confidently is all about being clear about what you want and articulating that in a way that offers value to the other party. If you can remember your body language and tone of voice, bonus! Stand tall with a strong handshake and speak with a friendly, yet declarative tone.

Anyone can negotiate with a few strategies in their toolkit. Take my 3Cs formula and remember that confidence x clarity x connection = jackpot! 

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Karen Laos, Communication Expert and Confidence Cultivator leverages 25 years in the boardroom and speaking on the world’s most coveted stages such as Google and NASA to transform missed opportunities into wins. She guides corporations and individuals with her tested communication model to generate consistent results for women leaders through her Leadership Presence Keynote: How to Be an Influential Communicator. You can find her at www.karenlaos.com.

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