Tip #8: (Try to) Take the Emotion Out of It | 28 Days of Salary Negotiation

Out of all the tips we'll offer to you this month, I think successfully implementing this tip might be the most difficult. Everything I recommend here is taken directly from my own experience, where my own emotions have kept me from getting a much deserved raise, and control of which allowed me to effectively negotiate a take-home pay that was nearly double the initial offer. 

It's easy to get emotional about your salary, or within a promotion negotiation process. We are talking about your livelihood, after all. And if you're a hard worker who is trying to get their salary aligned with the effort and outcomes you deliver to your organization, it can be very hard to keep things objective, keep the emotions out of it, and argue your case from your strongest position. 



Why worry about keeping emotion out of these conversations? Easy; people are generally pretty terrible about handling others' emotions, and it can make them close up and stymie a conversation. Essentially, the more your emotions are present in a salary/promotion negotiation, the more likely it is that the other negotiators will be dismissive of you and end the conversation. Unfortunately, they are also highly unlikely to end it by simply giving you what you are asking for. 

So, knowing this, how do you keep the emotion out of it?

  1. Give your emotions some safe air time. Whether it's talking it out with a mentor, writing about it in a journal, or yelling about it in the shower (or some other creative outlet!) give yourself the space to have the emotional reactions that are coming up during your negotiation process.

    I'm certainly not recommending you squash your emotions; in fact, I'm recommending the opposite. Find safe and productive ways to feel your emotions, fears, and reactions to this process, and you'll be more likely to keep your cool when it counts.

  2. Be prepared to pause on a negotiation if you feel yourself being overtaken with emotions. Perhaps you're supposed to discuss the potential for a promotion with your boss over lunch. You're mid-conversation when you realize it's turning into another discussion about you taking on yet another project with no chance for a pay increase in sight.

    And, before you know it, you're raging on the inside and ready to pop. Instead of having a meltdown and calling your boss an a$$hole (been there, done that), consider saying something more useful.

    Try: "I'm having trouble staying focused on the content of this conversation. I'm having a lot of thoughts and questions swirling that I'd like to think about before we continue this conversation further. Can we check in on this again in 2 days?"

    Use the time in between to shake it off and get your game face back on.

  3. If you're communicating about salary or a promotion over email, I beg of you to please have at least one person you trust review it. We'll get into this more in some tips in the coming days, but I'm a big proponent of salary transparency among coworkers and colleagues. If used carefully and thoughtfully, knowing this information can provide a professional many advantages.

    In this same spirit, I highly recommend you have a mentor and at least one trusted colleague (and me!) review absolutely everything you put in writing with regard to salary or a promotion. Even if it means seeing the % or dollar increase you're asking for. Even if it means finding out how much money you make now (GASP!)

    Why? Because it's doubly easy to interject unintentional emotion into an email, and you can destroy your entire case before you even have a chance to make it. Don't send something a manager is going to delete without even reading, and write off as someone complaining about their job.

    Find some people you trust, ask them to be brutally honest on cut-, cut-, cutting down the content in your emails (shorter is nearly ALWAYS better in these instances), and try your best not to take offense to their feedback. They are only kindly helping you to put your best foot forward.

What are your experiences with emotions getting in the way of a salary negotiation?