The Psychology of Negotiation: 4 Ways to Get What You Want

Carrie Sloan

psych-of-negotiationNo one likes talking about money—and we tend to like negotiating for it even less.

That’s why the thought of buying a new car, or simply asking for a raise can leave even the most self-assured with sweaty palms.

The thing about negotiating, though, is that there are tricks to the trade, and if it’s done right, you can walk away with more money in your pocket (or your paycheck).

But first you need to know some of the psychological pitfalls we all tend to fall into when it comes to big-league haggling.

LearnVest talked to two experts—including a professional mediator—to help you figure out what not to do, and more importantly, what you should do when negotiating for everything from a salary bump to a new set of wheels.

Negotiation Scenario #1: Asking for a Raise

You’re sure you deserve one, but this is a tricky thing to ask for given that you don’t want to rock the boat with your boss.

“You are negotiating with a person with whom you have a long-term relationship, and this kind of negotiation should be cooperative and ‘win-win,’” says Ed Wertheim, a professional mediator and associate professor of management and organizational development at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University.

First, “remember that you can disagree without being disagreeable,” Wertheim says. And that’s key because (surprise!) you’re unlikely to get a resounding “Sure, how much more money would you like?” as a first response from your supervisor.

Here’s the thing: Most people would take an initial no at face value and walk away because they’re uncomfortable with conflict, says Ramit Sethi, the New York Times best-selling author of “I Will Teach You to Be Rich.”

But accepting defeat that easily is laughable for a skilled negotiator.

In other words, hearing “You know, we’re in a rough spot with the company/the economy, so I can’t really discuss it this year” should be the beginning of your conversation—not the end.

Your goal is to be polite and proactive and remember that negotiations aren’t personal.

Then take this three-pronged approach: First, frame your request in light of how your contributions have benefited the company’s bottom line to date. Then do some research to determine your value in the marketplace, such as “how much someone in IT two years out of school should earn,” Wertheim says. “Try to look for an objective standard of fairness.”

Finally, if you still get a no, don’t walk away. “Ask if there are additional responsibilities you can take on, or if you can be evaluated in six months,” Wertheim says. “Then put that request in writing.”

RELATED: 6 Perks High-Earners Can Negotiate at Work