7 Scientifically-Proven Ways to Negotiate a Higher Salary. You’re Welcome

Updated February 9, 2017
by Dana Sitar
Staff Writer
Salary negotiation tips

It seems everyone wants to get better at salary negotiation… but we all hate talking about money.

That’s not hyperbole.

A Society of Human Resource Management poll found nearly 80% of people dislike discussions about money or employment terms, reports U.S. News & World Report.

So let’s try to make it more fun!

We found seven fun salary negotiation tips — and research shows they actually work.

1. Ask for a Ludicrous Amount of Money

Starting your salary negotiation with a good joke could help you earn more money, the Association for Psychological Science reports.

We’re not talking “Knock-Knock” jokes or opening with “Take My Wife…”

Crack a joke about your desired salary.

“Incorporating a joking comment about implausible salary expectations may be a relatively easy way for job candidates to establish a high anchor and minimize negative reactions from employers,” University of Idaho psychological scientist Todd J. Thorsteinson told Inc.

Setting that standard is a trick psychologists call anchoring. You throw out the first number, and the other person tends to work around that.

Think you’re worth $35,000? Mention $100,000, and let the conversation go from there.

In Thorsteinson’s experiment, a $100,000 mention lead to an average offer of $35,385, compared to $32,463 for the control group.

Just hone your joke-writing chops before you head into the negotiation, so they don’t think you’re a nut.

2. Let Them Talk About Themselves

Instead of making the conversation all about you, ask questions. Encourage employers to talk about themselves.

Talking about oneself can cause someone to feel as much pleasure as food or money, according to a study by Harvard neuroscientist Diana Tamir. Cha-ching!

If you put someone in a good mood, you should have an easier time asking them for something. And they’ll probably be more likely to acquiesce.

An added benefit to this approach is you’ll have a chance to learn what your boss cares about. Understanding their goals and the company’s will help you see — and convince your boss — how you fit into them.

3. Talk About Your Personal Life

You may think work is no place to air your personal laundry. You may even find it annoying when co-workers do this in your office (ahem).

Still, a personal touch could help you in a salary negotiation.

In an experiment with Kellogg and Stanford students, those who shared unrelated personal details over the course of a salary negotiation ended up getting significantly better results, Business Insider reports.

Opening with personal information helps you appear more trustworthy.

What kind of information should you share? Stay away from a story about your recent colonoscopy. Focus on something like children, hobbies or your hometown.

Give them something they can relate to… without wincing.

4. If You’re a Woman, Flirt — But Only a Little

A little flirtation could go a long way in salary negotiations, according to a study of “Feminine Charm” by Berkeley professor Laura Kray.

Striking the right balance between friendliness (which the study defines as displaying a concern for the other) and flirtation (in comparison, a concern for self, i.e. desire) may be a woman’s secret weapon for a successful negotiation.

While the effect is significantly greater on men, the study shows feminine charm can give you a boost in negotiations with women as well.

“Feminine charm is a strategic behavior aimed at making the person you are negotiating with feel good in order to get them to agree to your goals,” Dr. Kray told The Independent.

5. Drink Coffee

Yeah, like you needed permission.

When you drink coffee, you’re more likely to stick to your guns in a negotiation, according to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology.

The experiment showed the attitude or ideas you form after consuming caffeine are more resistant to persuasion against them.

So down that shot of espresso — and remind yourself why you deserve higher pay!

6. Stand Like Wonder Woman

Yes, we’re talking about the “power pose.”

Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy made a splash in the conversation about working women with her 2012 TED talk that let us know looking confident might actually make us more confident.

It was based on her 2010 research suggesting your posture can actually affect your brain chemistry.

So, Wonder Woman doesn’t only look badass with her wide stance, hands on her hips and head held high. She truly is badass, because, science.

The stance boosts testosterone, which increases your confidence, and reduces the stress hormone cortisol. In other words, it sets you up to totally rock a negotiation.

7. Surprise Them

Showing passion and being a little unpredictable in the conversation could give you a leg up in negotiations.

A study from Columbia Business School professor Adam Galinsky found that emotional inconsistency from negotiators leads to greater concessions from the other party.

In the experiment, negotiators fluctuated between incongruent emotions like anger and happiness. The other party felt less in control of the situation and was more likely to concede.

Without coming across as a lunatic, maybe you could harness this kind of unpredictability by wearing your heart on your sleeve. If you’re angry, don’t hold back. If you’re happy… clap your hands?

Keep your boss on their toes, and you could maintain control of the negotiation.

If You Just Don’t Want to Talk About Money

If all else fails, and you absolutely hate talking about money, here are two bonus tips to consider:

Talk About Benefits Instead

If you want to stay away from money altogether, negotiate for other valuable things.

Can you work from home, make your own schedule, get extra vacation time, have the company pay for travel or get a parking stipend?

Beyond that, consider how this job can help your greater career development.

Maybe your company will pay for your membership in a professional organization, days off to volunteer, guest speakers, mentor opportunities or even a sabbatical.

Your career and life goals will be way more fun to discuss than dollars and cents, right?

Work for an Awesome Company

To be honest, I hate talking about money, and I haven’t negotiated a salary in my life.

Instead, I’ve sought thriving companies that demonstrate obvious respect for their employees.

Working at The Penny Hoarder comes with benefits I wouldn’t have dreamed of asking for and pay I wouldn’t have guessed I deserved.

When a company’s base benefits are awesome, you’re on the right track.

Your Turn: What salary negotiation tips have you used to make more money?

With research from Haley Gonzalez, a writing intern at The Penny Hoarder.

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).

by Dana Sitar
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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