Some people think that their career is in the hands of someone else and that they have little control over the evolution of their career. Although at times you may perceive that the most you can do is just do your job or look for another one when you are unhappy with the present, and that for the most part, the boss dictates your ascent up the corporate ladder, it’s simply not true. Like everything else in life, career success is a proactive choice. And that covers influencing decisions that are supposedly beyond your control such as getting a raise, improving performance appraisals, getting a promotion and such.

It’s a given that such career decisions are given by the boss who usually bases his/her opinions on how well you perform on the job. Just remember though that doing a job well is not enough. External factors also have a hand at influencing your situation, and you might find that you have not advanced much due to a slump in the economy, office politics, personal differences and a host of other reasons outside your job performance.

Keep these things in mind when you attempt to negotiate your career issues with your superior. Knowing how to effectively do this is a skill that should not be thought of as kissing up (in our own local slang: “sipsip”) to the boss. It is a proactive move that lets you take hold of your career and lets your boss know your facts and issues from your perspective. Ultimately, this will help him/her make the best decisions that will be the good of all the parties concerned.

Internal Preparation
Before attempting to propose anything, first put your house in order. Evaluate your performance and make certain whether you feel that a vertical or lateral move is in order. Set reasonably high standards to negotiate for, and make sure your entire heart is in it; anything less than that should be shelved and saved for a more appropriate time.

Gather your facts. Whatever career move you’ve set your heart on, research on the details and prepare a report. Highlight all the areas where you think the company has benefited as a result of your contribution. Try to find out how much other people in the same rank and skill is getting paid these days. See if the company is ready for the move you want to take. Assess your current standing and ask around what people honestly think of you. You don’t want your plan to backfire when an irked co-employee thwarts your proposals with contradictory feedback.

Finally, get the courage to push your move forward. Evaluate your side at every angle and prepare an answer for every rebuttal or question that you foresee will be thrown your way. During the actual negotiating process, losing your cool or seeming uncertain of your stand will make you lose the game. Having confidence at the negotiating table will give you the aura of someone who knows what he’s/she’s doing and will convince your boss that agreeing to your proposals is an appropriate move.

Negotiating Techniques
When you find yourself at the negotiating table, start on matters that you agree with. Confrontation is a big no-no in negotiating. Start on matters where you share opinions in, such as areas where the company or your department can see improvement, projects you’ve worked on in which the boss has deemed satisfactory, and other similar matters. Use these things to back up your proposals. Start with questions that are answered with “yes” and you’ll see that you may get a “yes” all the way.

This principle follows in discussing issues: don’t be a naysayer, even when you’re chalking up problems. The whole world can be perceived as either half-empty or half-full, and however you see it, if you think it, you will be right. Therefore strive to see and discuss things in terms of opportunities and not as problems.

Finally, where differences of opinion surface, be prepared to compromise. If you begin with a goal and end up with something different from what you planned, don’t be disillusioned. Remember that a negotiating table lays out two perspectives: yours and your boss’. Combining both perspectives to reach a third solution may actually be better than what you started with, especially if it embraces both your good and your company’s. Just make sure that you don’t make hasty decisions on offers that you feel uncertain of. If you are given a new idea that you haven’t thought of before, ask for a waiting period to think the whole thing over.

In the end, the point remains: you design your career and where you want to be. You have the power to change your life, even in matters decided by higher powers. Take the best of what life can offer and maximize the opportunities given to you.

By Lolita Villa