As I work with people of all ages on their career goals, there is one skill set that determines just how successful they'll be: Their ability to negotiate. In my observation, most people simply hate it. They avoid it like a loud, drunk friend in a public place.
From the day we are born, we are conditioned to avoid creating uncomfortable situations with other people. Here are some the rules we learn:
Don't make people cry.
Don't embarrass people.
Don't insult others.
Translation: Don't create situations where people feel bad.
And yet, negotiation by its very definition is the act of two people with different viewpoints and goals working together to come up with an agreement they can both be happy with. In other words, both sides are going to feel bad until they can come up with a solution each is satisfied with. So, for all of you who have been avoiding negotiation because you don't enjoy it, I've got a news flash: Nobody enjoys it until it's over! And, I'll tell you something else... the smart folks are sucking it up, negotiating, and reaping the rewards while you stay miserable.
Your Career is an On-going Negotiation
If there is one thing I can teach people in 2012, it's you are not an employee with zero negotiating power left helpless to feel bad and desperate to find a new job to feel good. That is a weak, outdated mindset.
Instead, you must now see yourself as a business-of-one who has the power to negotiate everything. Yes, you heard me, EVERYTHING. However, that doesn't mean you should go guns blazing into your boss' office and demand a raise, a four-day work week, and the ability to bring your cat to work. Why?
Because Your Boss isn't Happy Either!
You may be shocked to hear this, but while you've been complaining and stressing about how bad your situation is, your boss has not been sitting back and thinking she has the deal of a lifetime with you. In fact, I guarantee when you engage in negotiations with your boss, she'll have more than a few things to say about your performance and current situation.
So, you need to be prepared. Remember: Both sides go into this dissatisfied. Your goal is to negotiate carefully until you get to a place where you can both be happy.
Would You Improve Your Negotiating Skills for $600K?
A recent study shows when new professionals negotiate a $5K raise at the beginning of their career and continue to negotiate over a lifetime they earn $600K more than their peers who don't negotiate.
The simple fact is those who negotiate get compensated for effectively navigating the uncomfortable process of getting to a place where both sides are satisfied. My question to you is: Why aren't you doing it too?Burning cash image from Shutterstock