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Unlocking the Power of Curiosity: How to Win at Salary Negotiation

Updated: Aug 22, 2023

Are you dreading your next salary negotiation? Don't worry, you don't need to be a professional negotiator to win the game. In fact, you already have a superpower that can help you ace the negotiation process - curiosity!

Curiosity is the key to unlocking a mutually beneficial agreement. It's all about asking the questions and seeking out answers that can help you better understand the situation.

So why is staying curious so crucial when negotiating your salary?

child being curious with binoculars

You need curiosity to uncover hidden information.

There is always more information available than what is initially presented. When you ask questions and stay curious, you can uncover important details about the job, the company, and the industry that can impact your salary negotiation.

Have you ever worked with someone who was so numbers-driven that they forgot to be curious about the people on the other side of the table? I have, and let me tell you, it's not a great way to negotiate.

I remember working with an executive who failed to inquire about the reasons behind his counterparts' position during a negotiation. Had he been curious, he would have learned that the sales and marketing departments were in conflict, and marketing needed a victory. However, because he was fixated on the numbers, he missed an opportunity to propose a collaborative program that would benefit both departments and demonstrate success to the sales team.

It is the same in salary negotiations, it's important to stay curious and ask questions that go beyond the stated positions. For example, if you are negotiating for a sales position, you could ask about the company's sales goals and projections. By doing so, you can position yourself as someone who can help the company achieve those goals and tie your compensation to the performance of those metrics.

Curiosity allows you to show you care

When you approach a negotiation with curiosity, you demonstrate that you care about the other party's position, the outcome of the negotiation, and that you are invested in finding a solution that works for both parties. This can help to disarm your counterpart and create a more collaborative environment.

During a salary negotiation, demanding a higher salary outright may not be the best approach. Instead, try asking questions to create a more collaborative environment and increase the chances of finding creative solutions that work within the company's compensation policy. When the manager realizes that your curiosity is genuine and that you're not just trying to push your own agenda, they will be more willing to help you achieve your desired compensation package.

Approaching a negotiation with a curious mindset can prevent it from becoming a battle

You are not there to engage in a battle, but rather to learn and understand the other party's perspective. This creates a space for learning, where both parties can share information and gain a better understanding of the situation.

For example, imagine you're negotiating for a remote work arrangement, but the manager is hesitant to agree. Instead of pushing harder or accepting defeat, you can use the power of curiosity to understand their perspective. By asking why they're hesitant, you can uncover the root of their concerns. Perhaps they value team camaraderie and worry that remote work will weaken it. Armed with this knowledge, you can propose a compromise that meets both your needs. For example, you could suggest working from home certain days, but also flying in regularly to provide face time at work.

Check out the free script at the end of this post to visualize how a curious conversation can get you to solutions.

two women collaborating

So here's the bottom line: when you're negotiating, keep asking questions and stay curious. Don't assume that the other person is being difficult or stubborn. Instead, try to understand their perspective by asking "why" in different ways.

You'd be surprised how many roadblocks can be overcome just by being curious and open-minded. So go ahead, ask why, and find a solution that works for everyone!

Remote work Negotiation Script
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