Use “What If?” Answers to Additional Leverage in Wage Negotiations

The salary debate is a tricky conversation , but the Harvard Business Review suggests coming up with a “what if” plan to help you solidify your strategy.

The idea here is to simply offer a few different examples of how you could improve your performance along with any promotion you might get. The Harvard Business Review describes it this way:

Use “what if” answers. One way to build on your boss’s responses during the open dialogue phase is to prepare multiple “what if” responses. What-if answers give you the opportunity to continue the conversation by suggesting specific actions you could take when your boss makes a general proposal. For example, if your boss says you need more experience in different areas before you can advance in the job, you might respond by specifying the exact strategy you could implement to get that experience, for example:

  • “What if I work directly with the marketing department on Johnson’s campaign?”
  • “What if I take the initiative to share our communication strategy with the sales team?”
  • “What if I follow the distribution leader for a week or participate in a one-day role exchange with a colleague in the finance department?

This is a simple thing, but it works in different ways. First, you provide a realistic blueprint for what you would be doing that you could spend more money on. Second, you formulate it in such a way that it remains open to interpretation so that you and your boss can come up with a plan. Of course, this is useful for more than just salary negotiations. If you just hate your job a little, getting around can be a rewarding way to extend your time on it, and it’s one way to at least spice up your days.

Here’s what I want to talk to your boss about | Harvard Business Review


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