5 Things to Remember When Negotiating with a Supervisor

Negotiating with your supervisor can be intimidating.  In fact, it can be one of the most challenging types of negotiation in the workplace.  It can be even more daunting when you are asking for something that is important to you such as a pay raise, time off, or flexible scheduling.  Unlike negotiating with clients, negotiating with your supervisor is different because your relationship with them can have an impact on your career.  Therefore, it is important to keep a few important things in mind when negotiating with a supervisor so you can achieve your objectives while also maintaining a good relationship with your boss. 

  1. You Have to Be Flexible

You obviously enter into a negotiation with your supervisor because there is something you want.  However, there might be times when your boss has real constraints and cannot give you what you want.  If the answer is “no,” it is important to remember that there might be a plausible reason.  It might be that your supervisor thinks you are worthy of a promotion but cannot do it right away.  In these instances, you should be flexible and try to come up with another solution for the time being.  For example, if your supervisor cannot promote you right away, perhaps he/she can give you a higher salary until the promotion is possible.  When you show that you are willing to be flexible, your supervisor will take notice and is more likely to present opportunities to you in the future. 

  • Control Your Emotions

Whenever you enter into a negotiation you must remember to leave your emotions at the door.  No matter how much you think you deserve a raise or how hard you have worked for that promotion, the fact is you will get ahead by being rational.  This means you need to lead with facts instead of emotions.  Back up your points with concrete data and examples.  If you are asking for a raise, for example, talk to your boss about your accomplishments and projects you have completed that make you worthy of a raise.  It is important to remain as neutral as possible and stick to the issues rather than your feelings.

  • Timing is Everything

When you are going to negotiate with your supervisor be strategic about your timing.  Approach your boss when you know the time is right.  For example, you wouldn’t want to walk into their office right after they got done dealing with a bad situation.  Likewise, you don’t want to approach them at the end of the day on a Friday.  Choose a time that is ideal and also try to choose a time that coincides with a successful project that you have just completed.

  • You Need to Listen

All too often we enter into a negotiation so determined to get what we want that we forget there are two sides to every situation.  Just as you want your supervisor to hear your perspective, you also have to listen to their thoughts with an open mind.  If your boss says something that you don’t agree with, don’t get defensive right away.  Instead, try putting yourself in their shoes in order to understand their opinion.  Active listening will build respect and foster mutual understanding. 

  • You Need to Come Prepared

Taking the time to jot down your talking points is very important before a negotiation with your supervisor.  Chances are you are going to be nervous and your nerves can cause you to forget everything you planned to say.  Planning ahead will also make you appear more confident during the negotiation.  It can also be helpful to rehearse the negotiation with a friend to get their perspective on how your points come across.  Remember that you don’t want the negotiation to feel memorized, but planning and preparation can help you recall important facts when you are stressed.