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How One Word Can Add Thousands to Your Paycheck

"How One Word Can Add Thousands to Your Paycheck

By Jack Chapman


Bam! That word just cost you plenty!

Can you tell how much it cost you? That word...

  1. Flushed your new $1,000 stereo system down the toilet;
  2. Ripped off your $3,000 Pentium 132 MHz/2-gig computer system;
  3. Canceled your reservations for a $5,000 two-week dream trip to an exotic location;
  4. Burned the blueprints for the $10,000 addition to your house;
  5. Yanked your kid out of college because you were $25K short.

That two-letter word, "OK," is really a "four-letter word" when it comes to salary negotiations. How could those two letters be so powerful? Easy--"O.K." is what most people say in response to a salary offer. They mean, "I'll accept what you've just offered, thank you."

Depending on where your salary is to begin with, you could lose A, B, C, D, or E. But you could also keep it, and more besides, if you learn even one small negotiating technique: change the "OK" to one word--"Hmmm"--and watch what happens.

If you are at minimum wage, and the employer says, "$4.65 an hour," an "OK" will freeze it right there. However, a "Hmmm" response could increase it, and just 50 cents an hour more will earn you $1,000 extra in a year of 40-hour weeks. That is easily a fine new stereo system--or a year's car insurance--or a month's rent on a great apartment.

The same goes for all other levels, too. A simple "Hmmm" instead of "OK" can change a $25,000 salary into $28,000 and finance your new computer system. $45,000 can be pushed to $50,000, affording you that much-needed two-week vacation.

The "Hmmm" response can drop another ten grand in the bank for high-level executives, and senior-level execs can buy a $25K freshman year for a daughter or son by swallowing the "OK."

Anybody can manage that swallow, so anybody can negotiate a better salary. Sometimes hourly-wage earners think, "Salary negotiation is for the big shots."

Not true. In fact, it is easier to negotiate more at the hourly-wage level than practically anywhere else is. Why? Perspective! An extra $.50, $1, or even a $3-5 an hour increase seldom exceeds a company's phone bill! From your perspective, it is a ten- to fifty-percent raise. From their perspective, an extra fifty cents an hour costs them only as much as an extra hour of long-distance calls a week--something most businesses do without a second thought.

Do not worry that the employer will change his or her mind about hiring you just because you ask for more. If you have interviewed well (and you must have done that or you wouldn't be getting an offer!), you are the front-runner already. Choosing the second best or going through the whole recruiting-interviewing-hiring process again will cost a company much more than $1,000 - $5,000 anyway in the end. Odds are, you will get that little extra, and the employer will still consider it a good bargain to avoid that hassle.

Moreover, what is the worst that happens if you do not? Your new boss will know that you believe you are worth more and treat you better.

Besides, you probably are not even pushing employers higher than they expected to go anyway. Good managers always start low to give themselves negotiating room. They might even really want to give you more, but if you say, "OK," you tie their hands! There is no gracious way for them to raise the offer.

Changing "OK" to "Hmmm" is rule number three of the five salary-making rules contained in the book Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1000 a Minute. As stated in the book, rule three is "When you hear the figure or range, repeat the figure or top of the range, and then be quiet." This "contemplative" first response to an offer can be called a "flinch." Even if you are so excited about the offer that you are ready to dance a jig, make your first response a flinch!

How do you carry off an effective flinch? First, make sure you repeat the figure they give you before going into the "contemplative" routine. (That way the interviewer knows you have not fallen asleep or tuned him out!) Then, you say something like, "Hmmm," or, "$X/hour? Hmmm. Isn't that a little low?" Or, "$X/hour. Hmmm, is that the best you can do?"

Paradoxically, when you do this, you do not just get more money from your potential employer; you make him or her feel better about it, too!

How's that possible?

Well, say you are selling a car. Mr. Buyer asks, "How much do you want for the car?" You say, "$8,500." If he says "Sold!" right away, how do you feel? What is your first thought? Right! You think, "Phooey! He agreed too quickly. I was too low. I could have gotten more!"

Now notice what happens if he flinches and says, "Hmmm, is that the best you can do?" You say, "Yes. I have done my research; that's a good deal on this car; it's the best I can do." By the time you close the deal, you still get $8,500, but you also get the inner satisfaction of winning in the negotiations by sticking to your price.

However, the chances are, your future employer will not come back with a "Yes, I've done my research," etc. Instead, he will offer a bit extra to sweeten the pot--he's got room to give a little, remember?--and you'll both come out ahead. You, with more cash in hand; the employer, with a heightened respect for you.

While it is true, then, that "Anybody can negotiate salary," it is more true to say, "Everyone should negotiate salary." No matter what your level, there is easy money to be made by changing "OK" to "Hmmm." Whether you are a hamburger flipper, or a shift supervisor of burger flippers, or an executive negotiating a regional marketing position for a burger-flipping chain, do not say, "OK"; say, "Hmmm.""

<Note from JobFairy.com: Excellent advice. Brilliant. If they have to pay you more, they will respect you more. Follow The Rules.>

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