Whether you are negotiating a salary for a job with a new company, discussing your pay for a promotion, or asking for a raise, negotiating a salary can be a difficult conversation for even the most experienced of professionals.
No matter your experience, qualifications, or job title, these five psychology hacks can help you to ace your salary negotiations and start earning you more money.
Tactic #1: Never discuss the specifics of your former salary
This tip is important for job hunters who are moving into a position where their negotiator does not know their previous salary. It’s highly recommended that potential employees keep their previous salary to themselves and only share a salary range with their new potential employer if absolutely necessary.
Keep in mind, that in many states it is actually illegal for an employer to inquire about a candidate’s past salary. This is because of a widely known psychological concept called psychological anchoring. It has been proven that when employers see previous salary information, that figure inevitably impacts their upcoming salary offer.
For example, if the proposed salary for this new role was budgeted to be $100,000, but your negotiators know your previous salary was only $50,000, they are more likely to offer you a much lower salary than they previously had budgeted for.
By withholding your previous salary information, you are ensuring that you are receiving offers based on your skills, experience, and overall value to the company. We always recommend that you allow your future employer to come in with the first salary bid whenever possible so you are not offered a salary based on your previous employment but rather your value as an employee.
Basing proposed salaries on your previous salary can be especially detrimental to recent graduates or employees new to an industry. These employees may have been underpaid at the beginning of their career, either by choice or by predatory employers.
Basing your new salary off of your previous salary can have a snowball effect that can potentially limit your earnings for the rest of your career. It is important that you move forward with each and every role you take with a fresh perspective and fresh salary negotiations.
Tactic #2: Be confident and show your worth
According to Jes Osrow, the Co-Founder of Rise Journey, a human resources strategy and consulting firm, being able to confidently show your worth from an analytical perspective.
“Break down the math in how your skills bring cost savings or financial benefit to an organization. Taking a clear and logical approach to how your specific skills and abilities save or make money for a company provides ample room for salary negotiation. If you show that you bring millions of dollars in revenue in, you should be able to ask for both a bigger base and bonus. Prove that you save the company money and can cut costs–some percentage of that should be returned in the form of compensation. You can take whatever approach works for your conversations, but numbers are strong and help you tell the story of what you’re (financially) worth.”
Tactic #3 – The “Chameleon Effect”
Another psychology hack for winning negotiations and increasing your salary is called the chameleon effect. According to psychologists, the chameleon effect is the act of mimicking gestures, body language, and mannerisms of the person you’re having a conversation with to appeal to their deeper subconscious.
The human brain is designed to recognize specific signals, such as matching behaviors, in order to establish trust and encourage effective and attentive listening. By subtly mimicking your negotiation partner, you are more likely to establish a deeper connection than if you were to act in opposition to their body language.
Some easy ways to integrate the chameleon effect into your conversation include:
- Adjusting your sitting position to match your boss or negotiator
- Using the same type of language and hand gestures
- Taking note of their subtle behaviors and matching these behaviors to your own
Try not to overthink this! It can be very off-putting to see someone mimicking your exact moves, so try your best to make it natural and let the psychological effects work in your favor.
Tactic #4 – Use empathy and social listening to determine the right moment
This tactic is more specific for those asking for a raise rather than a new employee sitting at a negotiation table. Asking for a raise can be an extremely stressful situation for many people, especially when you already have a personal relationship with the person that you are asking for additional money. Your boss or human resource liaison most likely already knows your salary information and a personal connection can often be a disadvantage when asking to negotiate a salary.
Should you find yourself in a situation where you feel like you have to prompt the conversation for a raise, we highly recommend choosing the proper moment when you know your boss will be more amenable to hearing you out.
For example, if your boss is not a morning person perhaps booking a meeting to discuss a raise first thing on a Monday morning is not the best time. Have you finished an exciting project or recently had an excellent performance review? This might be a perfect opportunity to ask for a raise, discuss your role in the company or potential growth opportunities ahead of you. When negotiating a raise, timing is truly everything.
Tactic #5: Be specific
When asked about your salary expectations, try your best to use as specific of a number as possible. For example, instead of asking for $180,000, ask for $182,600. By adding a layer of specificity you are training your negotiator’s mind to think of this number as an actual dollar amount rather than an arbitrary figure.
By asking for a specific amount of money, you are reminding the person who is being asked for the money that this cash is going towards a specific need. This theory is grounded in psychology and is called the pique technique.
It’s been proven that the pique technique is considered to be highly effective at shifting the perception of money so that employers understand that this dollar amount is required to meet a specific need. According to studies, the pique technique is extremely effective in negotiating salaries at any point in your career.