Want a Pay Raise? Act Like a Hostage Negotiator

Most of us are pretty good at what we do for our job, but unfortunately we’re not very good at asking for and getting a pay raise. I wrote about a recent study that found “less agreeable” workers do better at the negotiating table than “nice” employees. So, maybe show a little attitude next time you want more money.

I also came across an article in The Wall Street Journal that could also help you with your money talks. The story has a catchy headline: “How to Negotiate Your Salary Like an FBI Agent”. The author says as soon as salary is brought up, the employee has to become a hostage negotiator.

Imagine the HR director sitting across from you is a lunatic in a bank vault with 10 hostages. Instead of demanding millions and a private jet, he’s guarding the spreadsheet containing the payroll budget.

According to the WSJ article,  a few FBI techniques should be used  to effectively bring a positive outcome in such negotiations, including:

  • Using minimal encouragement
  • Paraphrasing
  • Mirroring
  • Pausing the conversation

So let’s say the HR person says, “We think you’re a great fit for the job, and we’d like to offer you a starting salary of $75,000.” Say something like: “I see. So you’re saying that the salary for this position would be $75,000.” Then be silent.

In doing so, you’ve listened attentively, paraphrased what the interviewer has said, mirrored back the last few words, and left an effective pause in the conversation to allow the interviewer to fill the gap. Most people hate awkward silence in conversation, and will rush to fill it, and what can happen in this scenario is they fill it with a higher offer.

Check out the WSJ article for more FBI negotiating techniques to get a pay raise. If these don’t work, I say try some waterboarding.

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