There are some people in life that always seem to get what they want. Whether it’s the nicest office, the lowest price on a car, or the best seat at a show, they use some combination of intelligence, charm, and persuasion to swing the balance their way.

The skills needed to master these abilities are rarely developed overnight, but rather, they evolve in stages. I’ve seen the same thing happen for those that excel in salary negotiation. Here’s how.

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Stage 1: Awareness of the problem

Many people don’t negotiate their salary simply because they don’t know they can. Because it’s not a topic that is often taught, many are unaware that you can counter-offer salaries, benefits, or raises when first starting out in the workforce. Many times you hear of a friend or colleague receiving more money and say ”How did you do that?” and the answer is simply, ”I asked.”

Stage 2: Knowing the landscape

Once someone’s eyes are open to the opportunity, the world is new. Job seekers can increase their salary thousands of dollars by handling a job offer the right way. Millions of people leave money on the table by saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. They find out that employers actually expect you to counter-offer, and thus leave ”wiggle room” in their budget to give you more money.

Stage 3: Researching your worth

After looking at the big picture, they come down to a personal level. Using sites such as,, and, employees can find out how their pay compares to their peers ‘” often they find out that they are drastically underpaid. Going on a few interviews can very quickly tell you what your worth is on the market.

Stage 4: Learning the skills

When the time comes to negotiate a new offer or have a performance review, it takes less than a day of effort to learn the basic techniques. Whether it’s talking to a mentor that has excelled in negotiation in their career, reading a book geared directly toward salary negotiation, or working 1:1 with a career consultant, a person can quickly gain the necessary skills that no one ever taught them. This includes evading revealing questions about past salary, using silence, and creating documentation to support your case.

Stage 5: Adapting a negotiation mindset

Once a person has researched the landscape, knows their worth, and has the techniques to succeed, they become much more confident in their abilities. They aren’t afraid or intimidated by negotiation, but in fact are excited by the opportunity. They realize it’s not a scary confrontation, but rather a business discussion aimed at arriving at a mutually beneficial situation.

Stage 6: Execution

Armed with all of this information and after some practice it’s just a matter of carrying out your plan, finding a balance between standing up for your worth and being flexible depending on how the conversation evolves.

In reality, those people you see don’t always get everything they want. However, once they’ve gone through the stages above and have the right mindset, it opens a world where that opportunity exists.


Have you ever found yourself in this situation during an interview?

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