Money·3 min read

How to Negotiate to Get More of What You Want

Woman smiles and shakes hands with man
April 15, 2021

Never accept a first offer, unless it’s the big slice of cake. Salaries, work perks, big purchases, monthly bills (including rent) and even debt payments are all open to negotiation.

I'm not really a haggler.

Feel you. But mastering the art of the deal can really pay off. Start with a vibe check to make sure the timing’s right. Asking for a raise a month after you get hired — or any other time it doesn’t feel right to play hardball — probably won’t get you what you want.

Noted. Then what?

Dive into some research. For a raise or new job, find the typical salary for your position and experience in your area. Sites like Glassdoor and PayScale can help.

If you're looking to lower your bills (think: cable, cell phone, Peloton subscription, etc.) see whether there are any deals or promo offers going on. And what competitors are charging.

So you're saying there's homework?

Little bit. Before negotiating a raise, prep a list of accomplishments. Especially ones that helped your company make money or hit a milestone. The more you can quantify, the better.

Tell service providers and lenders what you’ve done for them, too. Think: referred friends, always paid on time, etc. For example, reminding your bank that you’ve been a good customer for a long time could help you get things like discounts, waived fees or a lower interest rate.

And once it's go-time?

  • Make small talk. A little friendly rapport never hurt anybody. Be confident and direct with your request, but polite and relaxed in tone.

  • Michael Scott this thing. Remember to highlight the ways your ideal scenario benefits the other person (or people) to make it a win-win(-win).

  • Go first.  If you think being the first to throw out an offer weakens your negotiating power, think again. Research shows that negotiated outcomes typically stay in line with the first offer. Doing this means you “set the anchor” which determines the pace for negotiations. One thing to keep in mind — make sure your offer is backed by research and logic. 

What if none of that works? 

Ask why not. The person you talked to didn’t have the authority to make a decision? Find out who calls the shots. Now’s not a good time? Reschedule for later.

If you still can't get a fair deal, it could be time for plan BATNA. That's an acronym for Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement — aka what you'll do if things don't go as planned. Like accepting a better offer from a competitor if you’ve got one.


Taking a seat at the negotiation table can be intimidating, but your wallet will appreciate it. So do the prep work, build your case, and keep your eyes on the prize. 

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