When a recruiter first tells you the numbers behind the job offer, your immediate reaction can set the tone of the salary negotiation that will follow. You may feel nervous and excited, recognizing that your base salary could set the foundation for your financial future. You want to get it right and negotiate the best salary offer you can. With this pressure, asking for more money can be a stressful, nerve-wracking experience, but it does not have to be. Here is what you need to sound like:
You should sound matter-of-fact
To get your tone right, you need to recognize that a salary negotiation for a new job is not a plea deal. You do not need to build up a long case for why you deserve more money, citing data, facts, and wants. This is a business deal, not personal attack. There may be personal stakes for you in this negotiation, but for the person on the other side, it is business as usual.
When Ask a Manager’s Alison Green roleplays a salary negotiation with a guest on her podcast, she sounds matter-of-fact when she simply asks, “Any chance you can go up to X?” There is no hesitation or pleading in her voice. As Green puts it, “If you were hiring a handyman for your house, you would just be like, ‘Hey, any chance you can get it done for X?’ Same tone here. It’s business, you’re business people, you’re both looking for what you need, and this is just you expressing your side of that.”
Use silence to your advantage
Another way to sound more confident is to think about how the words are coming out of your mouth. Are you jumbling your questions together in the hopes you can get this over with or in your desire to get your point across? Slow down the tempo of the negotiation. When you sound calm and measured in your responses, you come across as more thoughtful and confident.
“Listen closely to the other person, pause for a while to show you are thinking about what they said, and keep your response slow and calm. This conveys respect but confidence in your position,” psychotherapist Sally Hall recommends in negotiations like these. After you state your request for a higher number, keep quiet. Do not fill in the silence and backtrack your case with nervous babble. Sometimes, a long pause can be the moment needed for a hiring manager to process your request and realize that you are serious about your desired number.
When you talk like a confident business person, you become one that can be respected by your negotiators. Do not underestimate the power of a confident, matter-of-fact tone when conveying requests.