How to negotiate and get what you deserve

When it comes to the workplace, many of us appreciate that it’s made up of a variety of different personality types. We’re all unique and bring different things to the table. Certain traits however are still revered, particularly in office-culture. With open-plan offices being the norm and many meetings turning into a competition of ‘who can shout the loudest?’, louder personalities and those willing to speak up often take centre stage. 

Man and woman negotiating

We can even see this affecting the gender pay gap. While there are multiple causes for this, research suggests that it could be at least partly down to the fact that men are more likely to negotiate – whether that’s for a higher salary, a bigger bonus, or a larger pay rise

Gender aside, confidence, assertion and speaking up can serve you very well at work. This doesn’t mean you need to change your personality or become the loudest person in the room. This is about valuing yourself, the work you bring to the table and not being afraid to ask for what you deserve and recognising that it may take some negotiating to get what you want.

When we talk about negotiating and getting what you deserve here, we don’t just mean more money. Perhaps you want more flexible working hours, or a shift in responsibilities within your role. Whatever it is that you want, understanding how to negotiate is key.

Let’s take a closer look at negotiation and some steps you can take to feel more confident the next time you ask for what you deserve. 

Value yourself and your needs

This is where it all starts. At the core of asking for what you deserve is believing that you deserve it in the first place. Start by writing a list of all your achievements at work, what do you bring to the table in your particular work place? Try to get into the habit of noting down positive feedback or even keeping an email folder called ‘feedback’ where you can store it. This will remind you of the amazing things you’ve done and give your confidence a boost. 

Think about why you’re asking for whatever it is you’re asking for. What difference will it make to your life? Why is it important to you? How will it affect other people in your life? This will help you value your needs and remind you that they are important. 

woman happy at work

Identify any limiting beliefs that may be holding you back

If you’re still feeling reluctant to ask for what you want, consider whether or not you may have a limiting belief holding you back. Have you had any bad experiences in the past when speaking up? Dig deep and allow these feelings to surface. When you’ve done this you can see these beliefs for what they are – beliefs, not facts. Try creating an alternative narrative (this could be in the form of affirmations) to help your brain make new connections through a positive belief.

If you find you’re struggling with this part of the process, you may find it helpful to work with a coach to help you build confidence and self-esteem. 


When you feel ready to have your discussion, it’s time to get it in the diary and then spend some time planning. Remind yourself of what you’re asking for and why (write it down) and then consider what is important to the other person. What goals or aims do they have? How will the changes you’re suggesting impact them? 

Instead of going in with just one suggestion, use a mind-map to think of a number of creative solutions to the current problem that will work for you and them (if possible). You might also want to get some data or evidence to support your case together, anything that will help the other person understand your request and why you deserve it. 

“By taking the time to prepare what you’re going to say, you can take a step back, see things from many perspectives and think of the most compelling arguments and ideas – as well as persuasive communication styles.

“If you don’t have time to prepare, see if you can negotiate time to go away and think about something or buy time by asking more questions about a topic first, rather than pressuring yourself to give an answer.” – Career and confidence coach Madeleine Morgan explains.

Listen to their point of view

Remember, negotiation is a two-way thing. Listen carefully to what the other person is saying and ask questions. For example if they say something isn’t possible, prompt them to explain why. This will either help you understand their position and offer a chance to offer a different solution, or they won’t have a defence and you can push a little harder on the original request. 

men in negotiation

Stay calm

Negotiations can be a nerve racking experience, especially if you don’t have much practice. Try your best to stay relaxed throughout as this can help you appear more self-assured. Psychologist and life coach Sarah Connell recommends taking deep breaths.

“If you are feeling anxious at the thought of being assertive, taking a few deep regular breaths will help you to feel much calmer. When we are calm, what we say sounds more assertive. 

“When communicating, 38% of your message comes from your tone of voice, so it is important to keep this in check. With each breath relax your facial muscles, slow down the speed at which you talk, we tend to speed up when we are feeling anxious.” 

As well as helping you communicate more clearly, staying calm will help you avoid being reactive if the other person is negative. Try not to mirror their attitude or get angry. Keep breathing, keep making your case and if it helps, suggest taking a break and returning to the conversation at a later date.  

Aim for a win-win situation

Ultimately the aim of any negotiation should be a win-win situation for both parties, so keep this in mind. If you’re left feeling like you got the raw end of the deal, don’t be afraid to ask for a further conversation. 

If a win-win situation isn’t possible, you may need to consider other options. This could mean making a move in your career or getting other parties involved in the negotiation. 

If you’re not in a position to negotiate in your current role at all, think about taking a sideways step in your career. Could you find something that will offer better employment benefits, more money or other long-term gains? Sometimes taking the time to step back and gain perspective can help you see all the options in front of you. 

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Written by Kat Nicholls
Kat is a Senior Writer for Life Coach Directory and Happiful magazine.
Written by Kat Nicholls
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