Making it about YOU is the rookie mistake you'll never make again, because it positions you as a competitor -- which triggers the other person to meet you on the virtual battleground of ego-to-ego combat.
And yet... it IS about you, isn't it?
YOU'RE the one getting evaluated and needing to prove your worth. You're the one who has to articulate YOUR value, such that you can make ends meet inside the terms you agree to.
You've got a lot riding on this, na?
So the real question becomes: How do you make sure that YOU win -- WITHOUT making it a competition?
The next time you find yourself asking this question, I invite you to try this way more fun and effective negotiation trick, which is to position yourself as an ally, in a SHARED quest, that TRANSCENDS the ego.
To do this, you must first set your own dreams aside, so you can hold space for THEIR dream.
You have to get them thinking and talking about what THEY want, until the vision is crystal clear in their mind's eye.
Sample questions to evoke this might include:
What are you hoping to accomplish?
What worked/didn't work in the past?
What's the BEST possible outcome?
What would you do if you had a budget of $100M?
If you were paying me $1M, what would you want to make sure you got out of it?
In this way, you make it implicitly clear that the question is NOT which ego will win -- but what is the shared dream? What is our big WHY? How will we know when we've achieved "success"?
(The key word here? Is "WE.")
In short: Get them talking about what THEY want. Gain a deep understanding of their why.
And THEN position yourself as the HOW to their WHY.
What might this look like?
If you're gunning for a raise within the same company, it looks like pointing to all the value you've created in the past; building a case for how it has directly influenced the outcome or the bottom line; and then ASKING whether or not that should be reflected in your pay.
Or if you're a new hire, you can build a case for all the value you could provide in the future, based on how you've demonstrated your game-changing abilities elsewhere in the past.
For example, my bound-for-Texas client had received glorious feedback from all her managers AND been promoted every year for three consecutive years at her old company.
But her best positioning piece is a comment that her former boss made to her, which is that not ONLY does she have great ideas -- she also drives them all the way through to execution.
These are the kinds of things she can tick off on her fingers to build a case for the kind of value she brings to the table.
Then, all she has to do is tie it back to the shared dream:
Do you see that as something that could help YOU get (what you said you wanted)?
Do you think that's the kind of thing that could have an impact on YOUR bottom line?
Do you see that as something that might be worth INVESTING in?
This is the difference between a ONE-WAY story, which is ego-driven, and a TWO-WAY story, which paints a picture of a shared dream.
It is a subtle and counterintuitive distinction; and yet it can make ALL the difference.
And I hope it does for you!
If someone you know is preparing to enter the War Room of Negotiation -- please share this article with them. And for another perspective on this question, be sure to check out this one as well.