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#uklibchat summary – Influencing and Negotiating – November 2014

On 2nd December we were talking about influencing and negotiating, covering a wide range of topics including salary negotiations, dealing with irrational people and how to walk the line between being a pushover and being too pushy. For some background on this chat see our excellent feature article by Raymond Phillips.

For the purposes of the summary below we have collated similar answers, but you can read the raw un-edited tweets in the chat archive.

Question 2 below asks for books & articles on negotiating & influencing, and there are several great suggestions there. Some additional resources to check out: Library Advocacy Unshushed MOOC from Toronto University, and @FutureLearn MOOC on Managing People touched on negotiating & influencing skills.

1. What makes someone a good influencer/negotiator?

  • Keeping emotion out of negotiation, keeping it focused and objective. Make a clear case
  • Being polite.
  • Good listener
  • Considering other points of view, and able to understand why someone wouldn’t automatically agree.
  • “Why this is important to you” is more useful than “Why this is important to me”. Understand the other person’s values.
  • Being well prepared and informed. Understand the jargon/terminology of the area around which you are negotiating but try not to avoid jargon when you are putting your case forward.
  • Using management speak may show you understand the other person’s values and can use their language, and senior managers may expect to see proposals framed in a certain way. However be aware that it sometimes gets in the way and obscures the real message. Adapt to your audience.
  • Being able to articulate the difference between what you need, what you want and what you would like
  • Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Recognise and take opportunities to give it a go.
  • An encouraging person is more likely to build a sympathetic audience and keep the audience engaged
  • Sticking to what you believe in.
  • Being aware of the wider context in which you are working, understanding that negotiation is about more than just money. Users, access locations, training, periods of agreements, service levels and more are all on the table

1b. Can you think of anyone who is a good example?

Bob Crow was given as an example of a good negotiator because he was politically aware, knowing when to push and when to give and when just to stand still.

Socrates was another example given, he was adept at talking others round to his point of view without them even realising it. Website of quotes here: http://t.co/lqkveuPReI However there was some debate in the chat over whether Socrates was a negotiator or rather a manipulator, asking questions in such a way as to get the answers he wanted from people.

It was pointed out that influencers can also be negative – Hitler as an extreme example

2. Are there any useful books/articles that you would recommend?

3. In which aspect of library work or in which sector are these skills most important?

It was generally agreed that negotiating and influencing skills are used the skills (albeit in different ways) in all sectors and levels.

Upper-level management will be negotiating with vendors or with higher ups (e.g. for budgets). Front-line staff will need to negotiate with patrons (e.g. getting a reasonable deadline for enquiry work) and co-workers.

We talked about negotiations with students in academic libraries, particularly over disputes about library rules. We discussed the need to demonstrate that rules are for their benefit, and how possible solutions could be student lead, for example working with the students union.

4. Have you ever negotiated a salary increase? How did you go about it?

Not many people had negotiated their own salary increase. Negotiating a salary doesn’t seem that common in the UK library sector, but it was striking from this discussion how the culture differs in different sectors and countries (we had participants from Ireland, Norway and the US as well as the UK).

One person had negotiated several times for pay rises for members of their staff (never for themselves). Each experience differed, but they have been happy with the results.

Another person was promoted at a UK government library without pay rise, being told it was a good opportunity. They refused the offer of promotion and was then given a counter-offer of a 10% rise.

In UK Higher Education the grade scales are all set, and a regrade is the only option for most. If salaries are negotiated this is usually done when you start a job because there’s not much “wiggle room” later on.

In the UK private sector it may be best to chat with HR first, as it may not be part of the culture to talk money. In the US private sector, salary negotiations are pretty much expected.

Rather than money it may be possible to negotiate for improved benefits, such as more annual leave. Some employers have a performance related bonus scheme, those who had experienced this felt it works well.

Some general tips for negotiating a salary increase:

  • If you feel you deserve one, don’t be shy. Stand up and at least say it. The worst that can happen is no pay rise.
  • If you present a case showing you have exceeded expectations or are working beyond your job description you may be considered for a move up the pay scale.
  • Be well prepared. Know as much as you can about the person you’re negotiating for, be rational
  • Leverage your experience as asset to them and how that is worth money to you.
  • Show comparable salaries across your sector & region – things like @SLAhq Salary Survey give you framework for negotiations https://t.co/S2yO9ChaUP

5. How do you get influencing “just right”? (not a pushover OR too pushy)

This depends a lot on the situation and the people, and even the culture of your institution. Read your audience – some people need a shove, others need coaxing gently. Get the level wrong and people resist you.

Be rational and leave the emotion in a bag. This led to the question – what if the other side is being irrational? Some tips for dealing with an irrational person:

  • focus on the issue not the person
  • be sure to know what you actually want and what you are willing to take at minimum
  • reconvene to another time if possible to allow time for reflection and to re-group
  • Remember, if you think the other person is being irrational, they believe they are rational and to be successful you need to understand their point of view.

On the topic of understanding peoples’ point of view, if you are negotiating for change, try to get input from all parties that will be affected by the changes before moving forward

Be true to what you believe in so people don’t see you as just manipulative. But know when to give up! Some people are not going to change their mind! Negotiating is about a win-win for both or all sides. Know when to compromise.

Finally, practice! The more you do it, the more you’ll develop the skill. And don’t fear failure, see it as a learning opportunity.

6. Any tips on negotiating with vendors?

Some good advice was to raise concerns with their products as soon as issues come up, don’t wait for scheduled catch ups.

Continuing the theme of compromise from question 5, sometimes the other side “wins” and by taking a step back you will win more next time. Remember that vendors need to survive too and need to show profits to be sustainable.

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This entry was posted on April 26, 2015 by in Discussion Summaries and tagged , , , , .

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