How to negotiate your salary like an FBI agent

Be strong in your silent treatment! FBI?negotiators leave pauses in their interrogations, which the other party tends to fill with small talk and valuable information.

Whether you’re in the process of accepting a new job or attempting to negotiate a raise at your current gig, asking for more money than what’s on the table is inherently awkward. Plus, you’re likely up against HR employees who have these talks all day, every day.

In his new book, “Salary Tutor,” Jim Hopkinson compiles advice from a number of pros — most notably, the FBI. What works for law enforcement interrogators could work for you: paraphrasing and repeating phrases, asking open-ended questions, identifying emotional triggers in the opposing party and initiating pauses in conversation to coerce new information.

Then again, it could also turn into a weird “CSI: Miami” outtake. We checked in  with Hopkinson about making it work in the real world.

Why do so many people dread salary negotiations?

Discussing salary is often a taboo subject with friends and colleagues, so people are underprepared because it’s a skill that many people are never taught. Whereas an HR professional has the proper training and might negotiate salaries several times per week, you might only negotiate salary a few times in your career.

The FBI techniques sound great on paper, but actually inviting a silent period goes against most people’s instincts. Do you have any advice on how to handle that pause?

It can definitely be awkward at first, so the key is to practice. I once spent eight straight hours preparing for this 30-second conversation. That might sound like a lot, but considering that your yearly salary is at stake, and that Americans spend about five hours a day watching TV and 53 billion minutes a month on Facebook, it is time well spent.

What about repeating information makes HR employees bend to your will?

The key, as with any important discussion, is to show that you are actively listening and fully engaged. You show that you understand what is being offered, which ensures both parties that they are on the same page so that the negotiation can continue.

More than $

Before you accept a  number, what should you be considering?
The bottom line is that it’s not always about the money. Does the job have a good work/life balance? How is the commute? Will you be working with a great boss and co-workers? Most importantly, are you doing something you love? You should always consider these factors when evaluating the overall offer.


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