Negotiation: How the word "we" made Lars $25 000. - TJ Guttormsen

Negotiation: How the word “we” made Lars $25 000.

What’s the magic word in any negotiation?

Ok, so it was a little more than just one word.

But “we” was the critical word.

You see, my client Lars was up for his annual salary negotiation and he felt like he was underpaid. Which was causing him to consider looking for a new employer.

After he explained his situation to me, I agreed that he wasn’t getting what he deserved.

So we went to work.

Our approach was a 2-step method. The most obvious of them being me teaching Lars some negotiation techniques. Which included having him work on them with various exercises.

The second one was to do an analysis of Lars’ boss. We needed that in order to decide what the best approach to the negotiations was.

It was clear that a soft approach would be best since his boss was a nice and social boss. She was interested in being liked and wanted to do a good job for the company.

A soft approach is all about creating alliances rather than confrontations. And that’s where that magic word “we” comes in.

Lars started crafting his arguments about why he should get a pay-raise and why he should qualify for a bonus that he – strictly speaking – didn’t really qualify for (but deserved on other merits).

He presented his arguments to me. After reviewing I agreed that his logic was sound and that he should definitely be paid more. We decided to shoot for the moon and go for as big of a raise as he could get.

Then I had him start rephrasing his arguments into “we arguments”. These are designed to make it sound like his boss and he was on the same team. To make it sound like they were partners trying to solve a problem together. And they also suggest that solving it would serve everyone. From Lars to his boss’ bosses and their clients.



“We-arguments” are all about explaining our arguments and our facts within the frame of how they benefit not just us – but also our counterpart in the negotiation.

So “I need to make more money in order to stay motivated for my job” can become “I’d like us to make sure that I’m always motivated to go the extra mile for the company, no matter what’s going on, so that we can serve our clients even better.”

Since the context of that statement is a salary negotiation, it becomes very clear how they can make sure he’s motivated.

Combining this soft approach with Lars’ reasonable arguments paid off. He left the negotiations with an $18 000 a year raise, plus a yearly bonus of another $7000 if he hit his quota (which he did).

That is, of course, an extraordinary result.

But it is an example of what’s possible when we both understand the people that we’re dealing with in a negotiation, and basic – but powerful – negotiation tactics like the ones I’ve shared in this and my previous article.

By framing the entire conversation through “we arguments”, as well as utilizing the techniques from my previous article, Lars negotiated like a pro and got everything he wanted.

So.. Have you been practicing the techniques I shared with you last week? 😉

-TJ Guttormsen

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  1. Pingback: How I returned merchandise for a profit - with no receipt. - TJ Guttormsen

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