Negotiating—It’s Not Just About the Money

Recently I had a conversation with one of our workshop alumni, and he told me a fascinating story about an agreement he made. It was especially intriguing because he used several of the concepts we talk about in our program. And money played only a minor role in the negotiation.

Our client—we’ll call him Alan—has been very successful in his career: moving up in his company, negotiating some great salary increases (by applying MAP principles), and acquiring new skills. At the same time, he has a growing family that he wants to spend more time with, so he wanted to get his work and personal life in better balance. And while he was at it, had some artistic endeavors that were enticing him to free up more time.

So, what did Alan do? He started thinking about how to apply his negotiation skills to craft an agreement with his employer that would work better for him, and keep the company satisfied. A win-win! Here’s what he did…

1. He Carefully Considered His Motivation

The first MAP Negotiation Guidepost—Know Why—is about understanding what each party wants and needs from a deal. You have to determine what matters most to you, and then you have to consider what would motivate the other party.

Alan wanted more time with his spouse and young children. He viewed this time in their lives as one where he could have an especially important impact. He wanted to minimize the number of times per week that he had to make a very challenging commute to his company’s office. And he wanted to free up time for his music—a pursuit that he’s very passionate about.

Next, he considered what would matter most to his employer. Like all companies they want to get the most value out of their people, so the quality of Alan’s work would need to stay the same or better. Retaining employees—especially those who are highly productive—is critical in today’s labor market. Controlling costs is important as well.

2. He Used Persuasive Data

The second MAP Negotiation Guidepost—Use Information—talks about sharing information with others that is advantageous to you.

In this case, Alan carefully timed his negotiation to immediately follow a presentation about several accomplishments that he and his team had made, casting light on verifiable, recent value that he brought to the organization.

3. He Set Some Aggressive Goals

The third Guidepost—Stretch Aspirations—focuses on setting goals for what you want out of a deal that push the boundaries of the other party—and even your own comfort zone. This matters because, generally, those who ask for more in a negotiation get more; so you want to avoid settling for less out of fear that you might offend the other party or be seen as unreasonable.

In keeping with this principle, Alan decided to make some requests that might be perceived as somewhat aggressive, but that were possibilities. He asked to reduce his hours to about 30 per week. He wanted to work from home 4 days per week. And he wanted to accept only a small reduction in salary.

You might be thinking that Alan was out of line—or at least risked being perceived as presumptuous. After all, these are some pretty big asks! But given his thoughtful assessment of the company’s motivations and the very persuasive data he shared he was confident that he was on solid ground.

So, what happened?

Well, Alan’s careful planning resulted in a very good agreement for himself and his company, and had very little to do with money. Here’s a brief summary of the deal they made:

  • Reduced work hours to average 30 per week, understanding that as needed hours could be extended
  • Alan works from home 4 days per week, but is flexible around the need to meet with others in the office or travel for the company. Alan agreed to upgrade his internet service at his cost to ensure reliability and availability of communication.
  • Since Alan had previously negotiated a substantial salary increase, he was able to give back a reasonable amount of money in exchange for the reduced hours, but still well within his financial needs

It’s Not Always About Money!

Like many negotiations, there was a financial component to Alan’s agreement with his employer. But money wasn’t the most important factor in the deal at all. By making a well thought out plan and utilizing his negotiation skills, Alan was able to meet his needs and still provide a great deal of value to his employer. This was a creative, sustainable deal—you might even say it was a great agreement! (That’s our fourth Guidepost: Craft Great Agreements.)

For many, the deals you negotiate most often are non-financial in nature. You are frequently involved in negotiating internally around topics like how you will work together with colleagues, or the division of tasks, projects, or responsibilities. You may spend a lot of time determining how to support other departments or functions, and trying to get resources for your team.

Maybe you have thought about these conversations as negotiations, but they are. And if others are more aware of it than you are, and better prepared—they may be winning more of what they aspire to than you are.

Want to learn more about how to prepare for non-financial negotiations? Download our Five Keys to Negotiating Like a Pro

How are you leveraging non-financial bargaining chips in your negotiations?

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Bradley Humbles

Bradley has been studying negotiation, successfully using negotiation skills, and facilitating negotiation workshops for more than 20 years. As a small business owner, Bradley understands what it takes to succeed in a competitive marketplace.

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