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How to: Negotiate Effectively

9th December 2015

By Lyndsey Hall



Negotiations can be tricky, especially if you are not a naturally confrontational person. You might be afraid of coming across aggressive, or worse: weak. But negotiating isn’t a skill we’re born with, it can be taught; and with a little practice you’ll be ready to negotiate that pay rise like a total pro.

According to experts, the number one trick to negotiating successfully and getting as close to your desired outcome as possible is: offer a range.

It is commonly believed that giving a spectrum of options will result in the other party choosing the one that is most beneficial to them (i.e. the lower end if you’re asking for a pay rise) – but new research has found this to be untrue.

According to a study by Colombia Business School, “when we hear a range, our minds are predisposed to take both numbers into account, not just the one that we want to hear”. This means that by simply presenting your desired figure at the lower end of the range, you will be more likely to get your boss to give you what you want. If you’re afraid of appearing too cheeky, just position your number in the middle of the range; you’re still more likely to get what you want than if you don’t mention a higher number at all.

The study also revealed that good negotiators are not necessarily as “cutthroat” as we imagine; even when negotiations were anonymous or the two parties didn’t expect to cross paths again, their counteroffers were often partly based on how rude or unreasonable a proposal may seem to the other party. Daniel Ames, a professor at Columbia Business School, calls this the “politeness effect”.

So, next time you’re in a pay review with your boss, or an interview for a new job, you know what to do! When they bring up your salary, give them a range to choose from and make sure your desired number is towards the lower end; that way you’ll increase your chances of getting what you want.

You can apply the same technique to a variety of different situations, such as buying or selling a business, agreeing a price with a client or supplier, or purchasing a new car – just make sure that the figure you’re hoping for is positioned somewhere in the middle of the range.


What are your tips for a successful negotiation? Do you find negotiating easy, or do you struggle to achieve your desired outcome? Let us know in the comments, or on Facebook and Twitter.


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