This Is How to Talk Your Way Into the Best Salary

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What are some tactics that everyone can use in salary negotiations? originally appeared on Quora–the knowledge-sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Chris Voss, author of Never Split the Difference, CEO of the Black Swan Group, on Quora:

Labels are great! “It seems like…” “It sounds like…” “It looks like…” followed by effective pauses. It’s really important to not “step” on your label by following it with a question or some sort of an explanation. You’ve got to let them sink in.

“It seems like there’s some flexibility in this package?”

“It sounds like there’s more here?”

“It seems like you have some ranges in mind?”

“It looks like you’ve used certain criteria to come up with this offer?”

Labels are a great way to gather more information and to test positions in a way that doesn’t make people feel backed into a corner. They’re effective in place of questions where basically you’d normally be looking for just a “yes” or a “no,” and they always get more information. They open up conversations and dialog in a really gentle, yet quietly firm way.

When you ask a question, you really need to know what’s behind the question. Some people don’t feel comfortable being asked questions without a great deal of thought, and labels are a gentle way to dig deeper. They’re really just observations.

Salary negotiations are particularly important because people are testing you as both a co-worker and an ambassador. They really don’t want you to be a pushover and they don’t want you to be a jerk.

Salary negotiations shouldn’t be limited to just salary. Salary pays your mortgage but terms build your career.

“It seems like there’s a bigger picture here for this position?”

“It looks like your company has a future vision I fit into.”

“It seems like this position fits a broader need within the company.”

“It looks like there’s some built-in opportunities for professional development?”

“It looks like this position fits a critical need.”

These labels can also be expressed as statements, as opposed to (or in addition to) expressing them as questions. (Any of these can be tailored either way.)

In many cases, making a straight observation is something that your counterparts or interviewing panels will appreciate. Counterparts appreciate someone with insight who “gets it.” Labels are a great way to demonstrate competence and insight. Both of these are characteristics that either merit a higher offer now or position you for one down the line.

Please remember, plan for your success with good terms within the overall package that builds your career. Labels help you flesh that out.

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