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Last week, Taylor Swift wrote an open letter to Apple and CEO Tim Cook in which she complained about the company’s decision not to pay artists during the three month free-trial period of Apple Music. By also threatening to withhold from them her hot new "1989" album, the new reigning Queen of Pop also gave a crash course in Negotiation 101.
Many of us could use some help in that department. A new survey from staffing firm Robert Half revealed that although 89 percent of workers believe they deserve a raise, only 54 percent plan on asking their employer for one this year. In fact, the survey showed, many workers would rather clean the house, look for a new job or even get a root canal than ask for a bump in pay.
So, what can us mere mortals take away from her tactics?
Have a specific goal. You need to know what you want. That, in and of itself, gives you a huge edge. Many people start negotiating without a specific idea of what their endgame is. "A raise" is not really a real goal. Much better is to know you want a "3 percent raise." The more specific your goal, the easier time you’ll have developing a plan to get there.
Ask the right questions. There are two questions key to any negotiation, says Lee E. Miller, co-author of A Woman’s Guide To Successful Negotiating. One, what will motivate the other party to want to do what I want them to do? And two, what are the things that are going to keep them from doing what I really want them to do?
Swift realized that the thing standing in Apple’s way was money. They didn’t want to pay more than they thought they had to. But there was something else even more important: image.
“The minute she went public [pointing out] you don’t give away your iPhones, she focused on the value of fairness which is so important to Apple’s image,” said Miller.
Ask the right person. Say you want to renegotiate your cellphone contract. If you’re talking to just a regular customer service rep, you may not get very far. But if you talk to someone in what's called the "Retention Department," whose sole purpose is to prevent people from cancelling, then you’re on the right track.
When Swift went right to Tim Cook she was negotiating with someone who had a stake in the outcome. You’ll be best off if you can find someone who has a stake in your outcome, too.
Know your edge. Being willing to withhold her album was one weapon in Swift’s arsenal – but not the real one. The real one was her popularity. Most of us don't have Swift's 60 million Twitter followers, but everyone has a little edge they can work.
If you’re thinking about buying a car from one dealer, you should be negotiating with other dealers for the same or a similar car at the same time, said Miller. “That makes you very effective as a negotiator because you have some place to walk to.”
The same thing is true in the employment world. “A big mistake people make is negotiating with an employer and they stop talking to other employers. The moment you stop talking with other employers, you start losing your edge,” he said.
Don’t fear the no. Many people don’t enter a negotiation because they fear the outcome, said Paul McDonald, Senior Executive Director of Robert Half. “They don’t like conflict or perceived conflict, and they’re not prepared to hear the “no.”
You can remove fear from the equation if you focus not on the negative response – but on the why behind it, said Miller.
“No, is just a first step. If you can figure out why they’re saying no, that’s a very valuable piece of information that will allow you to restructure your strategy and negotiation. No is just one step towards yes."