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Stuart Diamond: The future adds value

As an employee, anticipate your needs a year from now, and you’ll be able to negotiate a better deal
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First Published: Sun, Sep 08 2013. 03 23 PM IST
Stuart Diamond
Stuart Diamond
There’s a question negotiation expert Stuart Diamond is constantly grappling with—“How do we make our lives better than they were yesterday”. To the emeritus practice professor of legal studies and business ethics at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, US, and author of Getting More: How to Negotiate to Achieve Your Goals in the Real World (2010), everything is a negotiation—from a child asking for a cookie to a candidate seeking a job and an employee looking to get an increment.
To get more out of the hundreds of negotiations we enter into each day, Diamond has devised negotiation tools that include focusing on the goals instead of trying to determine who’s right; and making human contact.
In an interview with Mint, Diamond shared some tips on how best to approach a job application, and how to get ahead in the workplace. Edited excerpts:
How can one improve one’s chances of getting a job or an increment?
"I need to ask not how do I get a raise, but how do I meet your needs so well, you’ll give me a raise."
Most people approach jobs thinking it’s about them—that they want to make a proposal for a raise or a job, when actually it’s mostly about the other person.... I need to ask not how do I get a raise or a job, but how do I meet your needs so well you’ll give me a raise. It’s key to be focusing on the other person’s needs first. Not (say) I deserve to get a raise for the past, but what can I do to get a raise in the future. Employers love to pay for future benefit. They hate to pay for past benefit. So how does one focus on what can I do to justify getting a raise?
In my book I write about Mehul Trivedi who got rejected 18 times for jobs. I told him to rewrite his resume to each individual who’s going to interview him, not even to the company. And he got so many offers, he didn’t know what to do with them, because he focused on who they were, not just on selling himself or some broad notion of what the employer might want. It’s very much of an individual connection.
How does this concept of a future pay-off work?
Getting More is about getting more than yesterday—much better is good, a little better is okay, but (it has to be) better than yesterday. I want to constantly see my life improving, and that’s the measure.
The whole thing about workplaces is that companies need to earn their money every day. The past adds no value, the future adds value. So the more I focus on the future, the better it is.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to negotiate a better starting salary?
My students at Wharton often say, “How do I negotiate more compensation for my starting salary?” I say don’t do much negotiation. Everybody does it. Here’s what you should do—you should say how do I negotiate next year’s salary? If I do well, what can I get next year? And employers are much more generous with next year’s budget than they are with last year’s budget; so they wind up with a lot more. Rather than focus on what’s right now, make this a long exercise.
How can people get their foot in the door in a tough economic environment?
I encourage my students in a tough job market to volunteer for internship. Because once you get into a company, you are in the department, you see the bulletin board, you get the information, you talk to people.
And if the company doesn’t offer you a job at the end of the internship?
What I want to ask the company is the people you hire exhibit what and the people you don’t hire exhibit what? I want to try and meet their needs. The next thing I want to do is I want to hedge my bets. I want to say if you don’t hire me, can I have a recommendation that sounds like this or contacts that look like this? I want to negotiate. The more you put yourself in that situation before you get there, the better off you are. (Ask yourself) What do I want? What is the best I can get at the end of the project, and I negotiate that right at the start. Most people jus
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First Published: Sun, Sep 08 2013. 03 23 PM IST