Top 5 Salary Negotiation Strategies: How to Master Salary Negotiation

It’s common to view salary negotiations as a minefield. After all, one wrong move could derail the entire process. However, there is no need for things to go that far. Mastering these key salary negotiation strategies will give you the confidence to navigate any salary negotiation scenario.

Most importantly, it doesn’t matter which side of the negotiation you’re on. These salary negotiation strategies will help you achieve your desired outcome. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to keep in mind that the best result is a win-win proposition for both sides. Naturally, the last thing you want is to create animosity among the parties involved.

This article will explore the top five salary negotiation strategies based on the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode. In particular, we’ll discuss how appropriately utilizing the Conflict Mode model allows all sides to reach their desired outcomes without creating unnecessary conflict effectively.

salary negotiation strategies

What Are Salary Negotiation Strategies?

Salary negotiation strategies are ways in which stakeholders reach an agreement on the compensation a worker receives for their services. Moreover, the result of a salary negotiation must meet the expectations of both the employer and employee. Consequently, reaching an agreement may pose a conflictive situation.

Thus, the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode enables us to understand better that salary negotiations don’t need to become a zero-sum game. The aim is to play to each side’s strengths. In doing so, both sides can feel fairly treated and satisfied with the negotiation’s outcomes.

What Are the Top Five Salary Negotiation Strategies?

Based on the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode, the top five salary negotiation styles boil down to how each party handles conflict. Specifically, this method looks at how each side avoids conflict.

There are five main negotiation styles to consider: competing, accommodating, avoiding, compromising, and collaborating. Each of these styles largely depends on the individual’s perception of conflict and managing it.

Overall, these salary negotiation strategies aim to preserve a positive relationship among all sides. Therefore, your objective should be to maintain a positive atmosphere throughout the negotiation process so that a future working relationship fosters collaborative efforts.

1. The “Competing” Salary Negotiation Style

Those who exhibit the “competing” negotiation style show confidence and assertiveness. Often, individuals showing this style do so because they approach a negotiation from a position of strength and power. However, it’s important to note that this strategy is not about taking advantage of the seemingly “weaker” side. It’s about project confidence in one’s position heading into a negotiation.

The downside to the negotiation style is the risk of “winners” and “losers” emerging from the negotiation. There is a chance that one or both sides harbor resentment throughout the working relationship.

Consider these scenarios:

• A company approaches its hiring practices with a “take-it-or-leave-it” attitude. They generally interview hundreds of candidates making lowball offers. The company knows there are plenty of desperate job-seekers out there.

• A candidate knows their skill set is in high demand. They also understand that companies in their industry don’t have much leverage. So, they extract as many concessions as they can from their prospective employers. Employers feel they have “no choice” throughout the negotiation.

The Negotiation Lesson:

In both of these scenarios, there is a winner and a loser. A confident negotiator understands their value and sets their position accordingly. Therefore, an ideal approach would be for both employers and employees to understand the fair market value for an employee’s specific skill set. Researching sites such as Glassdoor can help gauge what most workers are currently making. Ultimately, a competing strategy means all sides recognize each other’s value. Consequently, a positive outcome achieves a win-win arrangement for all sides.

Avoiding negotiation salary style

2. The “Avoiding” Salary Negotiation Style

The “avoiding” salary negotiating style highlights one or multiple sides looking to avoid a potential conflict. As a result, an apprehensive attitude is evident throughout the negotiation. In essence, this negotiation strategy avoids taking responsibility for the outcome.

Personal coach and best-selling author Cheryl Richardson once penned, “If you avoid conflict to keep the peace, you start a war inside yourself.” Indeed, individuals who attempt to avoid conflict may ultimately foster resentment within themselves. Moreover, the avoiding strategy aims to dump responsibility on someone else. This approach leads to blame and a lack of personal accountability.

Consider these scenarios:

• A hiring manager makes a lowball offer. The candidate questions the offer by highlighting that it’s below the market average. The hiring manager uses responses such as “that’s the budget we have for the position” or “that’s what my boss approved.” While these statements may be true, they also underscore the hiring manager’s reluctance to engage in active negotiation.

• The hiring manager asks the candidate about their salary expectations during an interview. Quickly, the candidate points to the advertised compensation. The hiring manager understands the candidate’s reluctance to negotiate and moves on.

The Negotiation Lesson:

The avoiding strategy highlights a lack of willingness to cooperate. For some, this approach is a sign of disinterest. For others, it may result from feeling incapable of negotiating effectively. Therefore, avoiding conflict is the easiest way of getting things done.

Avoiding conflict should not be about discharging responsibility on others. Instead, avoiding conflict should focus on clearly communicating expectations. Thus, job-seekers should understand the employer’s position when stating their position. Also, employers should be aware of employees’ expectations as they make offers. Finding a common ground throughout the negotiation helps maintain a harmonious exchange among all parties.

3. The “Accommodating” Salary Negotiation Style

In this salary negotiating style, both sides are interested in making things work. Ideally, this situation involves a candidate that wants to work and a company that wants to bring the worker aboard. As a result, both sides are willing to compromise to get a deal done.

The downside to this strategy is becoming overly accommodating. As a result, one or both sides feel they gave up too much to make the deal work. As a result, this outcome may lead to feelings of resentment.

Consider these situations:

• Both the recruiter and candidate understand the fair market salary for the job in question. Consequently, both sides are willing to work out a deal that reflects a suitable compensation package.

• An employee receives less compensation in monetary terms. Nevertheless, the company’s benefits package makes up for the lower monetary payment.

The Negotiation Lesson:

In the accommodating negotiation style, we need to learn to “get out of our own way.” Getting out of our own way refers to the work done by Kolb and Porter in their book “Negotiating at Work: Turn Small Wins into Big Gains” (2015). In this book, the authors state that parties tend to focus on their weaknesses during a negotiation. As a result, the parties tend to make concessions way too early in the negotiation. Ultimately, the authors suggest having a clear understanding of what is fair. Entering a negotiation with a reasonable proposition allows you to defend your position well. Nevertheless, it’s also important to be flexible whenever possible.

Compromising negotiation salary style

4. The “Compromising” Negotiating Style

The “compromising” negotiation style seeks to find a perfectly fair deal for all parties. This style is the hardest since it’s not always possible to work out a precisely even deal for everyone.

It’s important not to confuse this style with the “accommodating” style. While the accommodating style aims to get a deal done, the compromising style seeks to strike a perfect deal for all sides. However, “splitting the difference” between offers and demands may be harder than you think.

The downside to this negotiation style is being unable to reach an agreement due to excessively minor details. As a result, the final deal may not seem quite as fair since both sides may concede far more than expected. Ultimately, the sides may believe they could have gotten a better deal.

Consider these scenarios:

• A company makes up for a lower-than-expected salary by offering additional benefits, including a flexible schedule and extra time off. The candidate agrees as the extra time off would allow them to pick up side gigs.

• A company makes a reasonable offer. However, the work schedule conflicts with the candidate’s class schedule. The candidate agrees to work overtime and weekends to make up the time. After a few weeks, the candidate realizes that working overtime and weekends doesn’t compensate for the salary.

The Negotiation Lesson:

In a Harvard Business School paper, Lax and Sebenius (2016) suggest that making a “non-offer” can help you get what you want. According to the authors, you must consider the context of your negotiation. For instance, a job-seeker receives a $50,000-a-year offer. However, they feel they could get more. Instead of saying, “I think I deserve $60,000,” the candidate can state, “Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I have seen other employees get $60,000 for a similar position.”

Similarly, employers should avoid constraining their offers to their budget or boss’s approval. Employers can justify their offers by making a statement such as, “the market average for similar positions throughout various industries hovers around $50,000.” Ultimately, the aim is for all parties to understand what is a truly fair outcome for all sides.

5. The Collaborative Negotiating Style

This negotiation style is often honest and transparent—the aim is to create long-term, mutually beneficial goals. As a result, all parties enter the negotiation with a clear mindset and willingness to work together to make a deal happen. At times, being “collaborative” means making small sacrifices.

For the collaborative style to work, all sides need to feel they have given up something to get something. When this occurs, the working relationship stems from trust and honesty.

Consider these situations:

• A company makes a fair offer. However, the work schedule conflicts with the candidate’s class schedule. The company is willing to give the candidate a part-time job instead of a full-time job. The candidate accepts the offer as they need the job.

• A company makes a great job offer. However, the job entails working unpaid overtime. To compensate, the company offers a flexible work-from-home scheme for several days a month.

The Negotiation Lesson:

Marks and Harold of Temple University published a paper in the Journal of Organizational Behavior in which they analyzed the five salary negotiation styles. In their analysis, they surveyed the job satisfaction of 149 professionals. Their conclusions found that professionals who employed a collaborative negotiation style showed greater satisfaction than other styles. The study concludes that candidates should be assertive throughout salary negotiations. Furthermore, employers should allow candidates wiggle room to negotiate the terms they find most favorable.

How Can TalentZök Help You Negotiate the Right Deal for You?

At TalentZök, we understand what it takes to achieve a win-win outcome. We help companies and workers successfully negotiate a deal that works well for everyone. We aim to develop strategies that help companies and employees feel fairly treated. Moreover, our professional staff knows what it’s like to be on both sides of a negotiation. Ultimately, we strive to provide you with the best possible deal every time. Learn more about how TalentZök can help you get the right deal today!

This post is made available for informational purposes only to provide a general understanding of the topics discussed herein. It is not intended to provide specific business, legal, or professional advice, and should not be relied on as such. TalentZök is not liable or responsible for any damage or loss arising from any reliance placed on such materials.

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