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Test your Negotiating IQ

When you want a promotion, a new computer system, a vacation during a very busy month, or a company-paid MBA, do you:

  • Eagerly anticipate the discussion?
  • Screw your courage to the sticking point and go for it? 
  • Avoid broaching the issue and hope it will eventually take care of itself?

Negotiating provokes a variety of intense responses from those who claim to swim with the sharks, admit a resemblance to Casper Milquetoast or fall in the muddling middle.  While opinions on the subject are mixed, people are rarely nonchalant about it.

Below is a quick quiz that will test your savvy on how to get what you want on the job.  Choose true or false for each of the questions, then read the answers to see how you fared.  Don't be too hard on yourself if you don't get them all correct: the subject of negotiating is fraught with misconceptions perpetuated by a culture that still agrees with Vince Lombardi’s famous tag line, " Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing."


T or F  1.  Most professionals cringe at the thought of asking for more responsibility, staff, a raise, or a transfer.
T or F  2.  The best negotiating strategy is "winner take all."
T or F  3.  Negotiating is a process, not an event.
  4.  Your performance appraisal should contain no surprises.
T or F  5.  When asking your manager for more responsibility, the most important you must tell him is why you deserve it.


1.  Most professionals cringe at the thought of asking for more responsibility, staff, a raise, or a transfer.  True 

Negotiating doesn't come naturally for many of us.  If we loved to "put on our tradin' pants," we would flock to car dealerships in eager anticipation of getting a great deal. When was the last time you looked forward to bargaining with a salesman? There’s a good reason why the percent of buyers purchasing vehicles via the internet continues to climb.

Along with our reticence to negotiate, most of us lack a basic understanding of how to do it.  After all, it wasn't part of our mandatory school or college curriculum, was it?  Throw in a natural distaste for conflict and a catastrophic expectation (The worst is sure to happen.) and we have the prime ingredients for a serious case of avoidance behavior. 

 2.  The best negotiating strategy is "winner take all."  False

A "take no prisoners" negotiating approach is still practiced by autocrats in third world countries, but it has little relevance in the team-oriented organizations of the 21st century. Aside from being primitive and self-centered, an I-win-you-lose strategy has a very short-term payoff.  This technique may work for car salesmen who never expect to see their customers again, but it's not viable for professionals who plan to nurture and maintain long-term relationships. Losers have long memories.

Good negotiators work to achieve a collaborative compromise where both parties feel like winners. Mutual decisions that respect everyone's position have a much better chance of producing positive results.

3.  Negotiating is a process, not an event.  True

When most people think about negotiating, they picture two or more individuals getting together to iron out their differences or plan a course of action. Yet this scenario is only a part of an overall process. Excellent negotiators understand that negotiating is based upon frequent and honest communication, so the parties involved always know where they stand.  People don't like surprises unless they're wrapped in pretty paper. When individuals work together to determine goals, chart progress, put out fires, and share rewards, they are actively engaging in an effective negotiation. 

4.  Your performance appraisal should contain no surprises.  True

As previously mentioned, a successful negotiating process requires lots of communication. If your manager doesn't schedule regular meetings with you to set goals, review progress, brainstorm ideas, compliment good work, and suggest specific improvements, you must take the initiative to solicit her feedback on at least a monthly basis. When it's performance appraisal time, both you and she can take a few minutes to discuss her already familiar written comments, then concentrate your remaining time on talking about your career development and goals for the future.

5.  When asking your manager for more responsibility, the most important thing         is why you deserve it.  False

Actually the most critical piece of information you give him is why your having more responsibility will benefit him and the company. While you should also be prepared to state why you can handle and deserve higher-level work, your boss's greatest concern is the impact of your request on his situation. Honor this need. Provide him with the best ammunition for convincing his manager that your request will benefit the company as well.

 Career Dimensions ● 214-208-1706 ●

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