Self-Assessment Quiz – True or False:

  • I feel comfortable speaking up at meetings.
  • I have created a team of people I can go to for help.
  • I am aware of my emotions when things are not going my way.
  • I am not afraid to try opening closed doors.

In my blogs, I’ve shared my horror story about when my cousin Mark saved the day and negotiated a salary offer on my behalf. It was how I learned firsthand about the power of negotiating. The salary increase he got me bumped me into an earning bracket that would’ve taken years to accomplish at the rate I was going.

But I was 40 by the time I learned to ask for what I wanted. Taking that long to learn was a costly lesson I’ll never be able to recoup no matter how long I work. Because salary earnings compound over time, I’d already lost out on at least 20 YEARS of earnings as a baseline from which to start my negotiations at that stage of my career. It’s one of the reasons I started Powerful Penny LLC. I don’t want you to have to try to figure this stuff out all on your own! I rode the Struggle Bus until the wheels practically fell off, so YOU don’t have to. So hear me when I say, “Build your negotiation skills now!”

It is imperative to your success that you stop blindly accepting first offers, that you start a conversation after an initial offer is made, and that you know your worth. There’s a great book I just read called Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It by Chris Voss. Add it to your library, pronto. I’m telling y’all, you’ll thank me later!

If negotiating scares the crap out of you (and it probably does if you answered FALSE to most of the questions in the self-assessment quiz), why not start small? Home: Can your spouse do the dishes tonight so that you have more hours to work your side hustle? Farmer’s Market: That bushel of sweet potatoes is $6.00. Will they take $5.00? Used Car Lot: Will they take $2,000 off the asking price? They have already marked up the car; some are just waiting for you not to negotiate.

I learned a tip when I was in my 20s and purchasing my first car that has proven effective in negotiating over and over again. As a woman, I didn’t want to get hoodwinked and bamboozled, so I researched how to negotiate buying a car. And a couple of lessons have stuck with me.

One, always buy a car at the end of the month, preferably the last Wednesday of the month. It’s even better if it’s raining or snowing heavily out when you go to the dealership. Salesmen are worried about making their quotas at the end of the month, so are more likely to negotiate with you. Timing is everything. As is the case with knowing when is the appropriate time to negotiate for what you want at work. Asking for a raise at the end of a fiscal year isn’t a great strategy. Like the car salesman, worried about making his quota, your boss is concerned about coming in under budget. Chances are, there are no dollars left for unexpected salary increases. So do your homework. Ask instead during the budget planning season for the upcoming fiscal year.

Two, after you’ve done your research (and learned for example that it’s best to buy a car on a rainy 4th Wednesday),  make your best offer, then STOP TALKING. Sssh. Not another single solitary word. You can make facial grimaces (or even roll your neck), but don’t speak until the car salesman reaches his best offer. If it’s not anywhere near yours, simply pick up your belongings and leave. OMG THIS WORKS! I’ve purchased four cars since I learned this method, and the silent treatment works every single time. He who speaks first LOSES.

This tactic works, by the way, on boyfriends, children, and yes, even bosses! And it always works if you’ve done your homework first and know when to fold them. You can’t be afraid to walk away from something you really want. Which is why this is such a powerful negotiating tool. But don’t overplay your hand. If you’re bluffing — and aren’t really willing to walk away — a boss could just call your bluff and leave you holding your box of personal belongings standing at the curb wondering what the heck happened!

Being an independent thinker also helps with negotiating. For example, I hate it when we’re going into an arena or some other large public facility and there are 1,000 people trying to squeeze through one door like cattle, because it’s the only OPEN door. No one even thinks to try another door. That drives me BONKERS!  I’m usually the one to try an alternate door. Do YOU try alternative proverbial doors when you are trying to negotiate a win-win at work? Or are you only focused on one solution?

I’m also not afraid to speak up. I’m the one asking in the grocery store if they can get another cashier to help ring up customers if there are more than six people in line. Ummm-hmm. I’m THAT girl. Being an independent thinker makes it easier for you to negotiate on your own behalf once you know that you have that power. But you have to believe in yourself. Do you?

If you need more practice, try asking for help in small doses. For example, if you’re at Target and you can’t find the hand sanitizer, are you the type of person to walk up and down the aisles looking, just knowing you can find it on your own—OR do you stop to ask an employee for help immediately? And even request that they walk you to the sanitizer.

These tactics may seem totally incongruous with negotiating for a higher salary, promotion, or different job assignments at work. But these small steps can grow your courage in speaking up for things that are important to you. And isn’t that really what negotiating is all about?

Give it a try. It is never too late or too early to learn the power of negotiating. Get started today!

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