How to Be a Better Negotiator

Better Negotiator

The Story

Never accept a first offer. (Unless it’s the big slice of cake. Always take the big slice of cake.) Salaries, subscriptions, purchases, and loan terms 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 some research. For a raise or new job, find the typical salary for your position with your experience in your area. Compensation sites like Glassdoor and PayScale can help.

If you're looking to lower your bills (cable, cell phone, gym membership, etc.), see if there are any deals you could get in on. And what competitors are charging. The same goes for purchases like a car, appliances, electronics, and furniture.

Related: How to Save on Entertainment Costs

So you're saying there's homework?

Little bit. Before a salary negotiation, you should also prep a list of accomplishments. Especially ones that helped your company turn a profit or achieve a milestone. The more you can quantify, the better.

With retailers and service providers, look back at your relationship history. Bonus points if you refer friends or always pay on time. card companies like the same things. Showing off your punctuality – and credit score if you've polished it lately – could help you lock in a lower interest rate. Which can save you time and money.

Related: theSkimm on Credit Cards

And once it's go time?

  • Make small talk. A little friendly rapport never hurt nobody. You should be confident and direct with your request, but polite, pleasant, and relaxed in tone.

  • Engage your senses. Eye contact helps build trust. It also helps with effective listening, which is key when you're negotiating.

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

  • Give options. Research shows you're more likely to get what you want if you're cool with a few, equally desirable outcomes.

What if none of that works? 

Take Lizzie McGuire's advice and ask why not. Not up to them? Find out who makes the call. Then get their digits. Not a good time? Schedule something down the line. Not aligned on your value? See what action items could change their mind, and follow up once you've done them all.

If you still can't get a fair deal, it could be time for plan BATNA. That's short for Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement. Aka what you'll do if things don't go as planned. Like taking that better offer elsewhere.


You shouldn’t earn less than you deserve. Or pay more than you have to. 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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