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Business Tips: Negotiating (1 of a series)

Negotiating Your Way to A Better Job, Better Pay

(ARA) - In the film "The Negotiator," Oscar-winners Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey portray professional negotiators who must battle wits to solve a police conspiracy. So who wins the war of the tongue? Neither.

After a stalemate in negotiations, the two experts decide to team up to catch the bad-guys and save the day. The moral: never underestimate a good negotiator, even if you happen to be one yourself. In everyday life, we don't often find ourselves face-to-face with elite negotiators. But negotiation is nonetheless a part of our daily existence, whether we're at the office, at home, or amongst friends. Think about your negotiating skills the next time you and your spouse choose a movie at the video store, or the next time you haggle a price with that crafty used-car salesman.

Do you feel cheated or short-changed when you've been out-negotiated? The intensity of your reaction probably corresponds with the seriousness of the results. Having to pay $1,000 more for that used car may hurt your pocketbook more than sitting through your spouse's idea of great cinema will affect your attention span.

In the business world, negotiation skills are a necessity whether you're closing a deal in sales or hiring a new employee in human resources. Consider your next performance review at work, for example. You want the salary you deserve, and hope that your performance speaks for itself, but will that be enough? What if your manager is in poor spirits that day? Or if the company's stock takes a nosedive during the week of your meeting? You can't control all the elements, but doing your research beforehand can prove invaluable.

Here's an example of what not to do, from successful businessman and international speaker, Harvey Mackay. Mackay loves to tell the story of the great negotiator and baseball manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey. Back in the 1940's, athletes didn't hire high-priced agents to negotiate million dollar contracts.

They were left to fend for themselves. Gene Hermanski, an outfielder determined to get a $10,000 raise for his excellent season, marched into Rickey's office prepared to argue passionately for his case. When he returned after a lengthy meeting, Hermanski was asked if he got his raise. "No, he replied, but I didn't get cut either."

The message here is clear: a head of steam and a deserving case is no match for a master negotiator so good that he leaves his opponent feeling lucky to have kept their jobs.

No slouch at negotiating himself, Mackay offers 6 tips for getting a raise in his book, "Pushing the Envelope: All the Way to the Top." Keep in mind, the basic premise behind these tips could also be applied to anyone searching for a new job.

1) Research your target. Pick your time carefully. When you asked Dad for the car keys, did you hit him when he walked in the door or wait until after he'd had his dinner and was in a good mood?

2) Know the company. What percentage did profits, sales, and market share increase last year?

3) Know the competition. What are other people at other companies getting paid for your slot? This is particularly useful when you haven't been all that productive. You still might be able to demonstrate that you're underpaid.

4) Know your product. That's you. Keep a log of your accomplishments. Write it down. Make notes in your daily calendar. That way, you won't forget anything, and you'll have the most valuable form of proof there is: written evidence.

5) If you get turned down, set the table for the next round. Ask: "What do I have to do in the next 6 or 12 months to accomplish my economic goals?"

6) Don't threaten. Don't bluff. Don't be afraid to ask.

Mackay concludes each chapter of his book with a "Mackay Moral." His moral for workers interested in getting a raise? With due regard to Jerry Maguire--"If you want them to show you the money, you better show them the reason."

Harvey Mackay is chief executive officer of the Mackay Envelope Corporation, a business he founded in 1959 in Minneapolis. In addition, he is a nationally syndicated weekly business columnist, #1 New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," and internationally acclaimed speaker.

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