Brandman News

Negotiate your way to better negotiations

January 28, 2016
Nancy Salzman, dean of the School of Extended Education

Nancy Salzman, dean of the School of Extended Education

Think about negotiations and you’re likely to focus on the most difficult ones (pay raises or new job titles, divorce). But as Nancy Salzman will be reminding people in the upcoming webinar from the School of Extended Education,most of us “negotiate” every day.

“We have to remember that,” she said from her office at Brandman University where she’s the dean of the School of Extended Education. Getting a reluctant child into the bathtub, deciding with co-workers where to eat lunch (“you pick,” “no, you pick”) or selecting which movie to watch with a spouse are all everyday examples of “entering a discussion to reach an agreement,” the dictionary definition of negotiation.

Possible outcomes to every negotiation

Win-win negotiation

  • Aim high, but be realistic, at the start.
  • Know what you want to say in the first five minutes.
  • Schedule for when you have the most energy.
  • Find a happy medium.
  • Keep it simple and clear, focus on one or two points.
  • Pay attention to body language, eye contact and other people skills.
  • Ask “what would happen if ..” or “suppose we were to …” or “what would the result be if …”
  • Get it in writing.
  • Avoid thinking short-term and saying just “no.”

Remembering that we do it all the time can help when the high stakes negotiations come along, said Salzman. “But it is scary. It’s like public speaking. We’re putting ourselves out there.”

Salzman, whose “curvy” career path includes being a lawyer and advocate, said it’s even a challenge for her and that, like most people, “It’s easier to go to bat for someone else. You have to remember you can do it for yourself as well.”

As with public speaking, one of the keys is being prepared and doing your homework ahead of time, she said. “Knowing what the other person can do, what the motivating factors are and knowing what they’re willing to do, all need to be part of the homework.”

While the Internet has information about companies and salary ranges for similar positions, it’s also important to really listen to the other person, particularly when the negotiation is for a job, said Salzman. “What they are asking you, tells you what they’re interested in. Listen, ask questions and understand their position.”

It’s also important to know going in what your “anchor” or beginning offer is going to be as well as what your bottom line is and where you’ll be willing to walk away.

Salzman recalled a time when she was leaving one organization and was eager to work for another, even though they didn’t have any job openings at the time. “But they did have gaps. So I decided that I was going to figure out a way to craft a job description with the resources they had. I sat down with the leadership, and we talked about what they had and what they needed. I really listened and asked a lot of questions. And then I posed a solution. I knew I had to pose one that would pay for itself, but if I could do that, I thought I could get an opportunity and I did,” she said.

She also knew what she wasn’t willing to do: the same work as a volunteer, although she was willing to do some volunteering to demonstrate that her proposal would work.

“You don’t have to win. You have to add value for yourself and for them. People are looking for solutions,” she said.

“Everyone has an agenda. That’s not a bad thing. It means that everyone has things they need to accomplish,” she said. “How do your goals align with their goals and move them ahead, too?”

What: Five Essential Keys for Successful Negotiation and How to Avoid the Most Common Negotiation Mistakes webinar
When: Noon to 1 p.m. March 3.
Instructor: Nancy Salzman, dean of Brandman University School of Extended Education
Information: 800-632-0094 or

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