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The 3 Words and Phrases You Should Avoid When Negotiating a Job Offer

Topics: Negotiation

Looking for work can be, well, pretty tough work. You might think that once you get an offer, the hard part is over. But, there are still plenty of pitfalls standing between you and the job of your dreams, even at the offer stage; for example, it’s possible to cheat yourself out of an appropriate salary, just by saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.


(Photo Credit: Eric Kilby/Flickr)

  1. A too-quickly spoken, “Yes!”

A fresh job offer is an exciting thing, especially after a lengthy, or otherwise agonizing, job search process. So, brace yourself a bit. Your first instinct when you are offered the position might just be to say, “Yes!” right away – but you’ll be selling yourself short if you do that. Negotiating is important; when you ask for more, you earn more, so be sure to take your time to consider the offer (and your counter) before you respond.

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  1. A hardheaded or inflexible, “No.”

We have to remember to stay flexible during the negotiation process. You don’t want to become so focused on your aims and goals that you can’t recognize a better offer when you see one. There is more to negotiating than just salary and healthcare – these days employees are earning all kinds of interesting benefits – but we shouldn’t let that confuse the issue or hold us back. Decide on your desired salary range, but then stay open to other possibilities and really listen during negotiations – you might like what you hear, even if it isn’t exactly what you expected.

  1. “That sounds fair.”

When you’re negotiating for a job, you should avoid mentioning (or even thinking) that what you’re aiming for is a “fair” salary. You want to walk away with the best possible compensation package here, not just one that is adequate. Concentrate on framing the discussion as one of mutual benefit, advises Lee E. Miller, co-author of A Woman’s Guide to Successful Negotiating.

“The key to all this is to give them reasons to want to help you, so you take the offer and take it excitedly,” Miller tells Business Insider. “That’s what we want. We don’t want you not to be happy about it, because the first time someone comes along with a better offer we know you’re out of here. If you have reasons for asking for other things, we’ll probably say yes.”

Miller suggests using phrases like, “Can you help make this offer one that will allow me to happily accept?”

Regardless of how you frame the discussion, it’s essential to know a reasonable salary range for people with similar job titles and experience. Use PayScale’s Salary Survey to do a little research beforehand, and aim for that benchmark and beyond.

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What other words or phrases should be avoided during the negotiation process? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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