When it comes to negotiating a salary or a raise is silence golden? by Roz Usheroff

When we call the plumber because our tub drain is clogged, we don’t ask “What did you charge the guy down the block to unclog his drain last week?” If we do, the plumber is going to say “My rate is $95 an hour. Do you want me to come over, or not?”

In my previous post, I talked about why it is important to Always Look for Ways to Earn Your Place in the World!

The above excerpt from an article written by Liz Ryan reminds us that earning our place also means knowing our worth, and getting it!

So how do you determine your worth, and once you determine it, how do you get a fair remuneration for your services?

While Ryan extols the virtues of adopting the mindset of a plumber in that they are not as she put it “mealy-mouthed and hesitant the way business people so often get when they really should speak up,” I am not certain that this approach would be the right one for the majority of people in today’s workforce.

Do not get me wrong, as I am not suggesting you assume a subservient position along the lines of Oliver Twist asking for more food.  After all, no one wants to be a George Jetson to a Cosmo Spacely boss.

This being said, I am reminded about the following story about Thomas Edison:

When Western Union told Thomas Edison to “name his price” for the ticker he had invented, he asked for several days to consider it.  His wife suggested $20,000, but he thought such an amount was exorbitant.

At the appointed time, he went to the meeting still unsure what the price should be.  When the official asked, “how much?” he tried to say $20,000, but the words just wouldn’t come out of his mouth.  The official finally broke the silence and asked, “Well, how about $100,000?”


So what can we learn from the above Edison story?

To start, we often have a tendency to undervalue our worth – especially in a tough economy where the job market can be tight.  In this context, do your homework.  For example, what is the salary range in the market for the position you are seeking?  This way, when the conversation with a perspective employer or client comes around to money, you have an idea as to what the going general rate is in the current business climate.

The second most important thing to remember is the unique value that you bring to the table.

Rarely will a potential employer or client ask you to “name your price.”  Most likely you will be asked the question “what are your earning expectations?” or, “here is what we are prepared to offer you.”

In the latter instance – and I wrote about this in a earlier post – the vast majority of people will usually accept without question the initial offer, even though the person making the offer was open to negotiating the figure.

The best way to respond is to say the following; “I am very excited about the opportunity to work with you, so thank you for making the offer.  However, and based on an understanding of the current rate in the market for my services, what would you be able to offer above this figure given my experience and obvious fit with your organization?”  Then say nothing, and wait for the response.

The same approach will apply to the earning expectations question as well.  Specifically, “I am very excited about the opportunity to work with you, and based on an understanding of the current rate in the market for my services, what figure would make the most sense for you?”

Besides providing a gauge relating to your earnings potential, posing the question in such a manner will also provide you with an indication as to your prospective new boss or client’s perception of your value.  If their response and corresponding offer is less than enthusiastic, then you might want to reconsider accepting simply because it may mean that they do not view your position or services as being critical to their success.  In a world where there is no longer the cradle to grave job security of the past, being viewed as non-critical puts you at the front of the line if and when budget cuts become a factor.

The one final thought that I would like to leave with you is simply this . . . when it comes to negotiating a salary or a raise, do so from a position of humble confidence.  Or as Liz Ryan put it in her article, “a healthy self-esteem.”

This means that you should not be reluctant to ask questions.

For example, I can recall the story of an individual who during his conversation regarding a management position with a high tech company asked his perspective employer in passing what he thought about signing bonuses.  Even though a signing bonus had never been discussed in the initial interviews, the soon-to-be new boss said he would be open to the idea and suggested $5,000.  The intrepid candidate suggested than $10,000 seemed to be the industry norm.  The new boss agreed.

In recounting the story this individual indicated that he had not prior to that day, thought about asking for a signing bonus.  However, while waiting in the reception area to meet with the boss, he read an article in one of the company’s magazines about . . . signing bonuses.  Why not he thought, and the rest as they say is history.

Roz 3D Book Cover

In my new book The Future of You! Creating Your Enduring Brand, I show you how to become your Best PR Person by enabling you to effectively demonstrate your value in terms of helping others to achieve their goals.

Order your copy today through my website, Amazon.com or Smashwords.



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One response to “When it comes to negotiating a salary or a raise is silence golden? by Roz Usheroff”

  1. David Goldwich says :

    Nice post, Roz. I like your open-ended response to their first offer – nothing to lose by asking and potentially much to gain!

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