I don’t even let my managers do that…
For sometime now I have had the mindset that “I do not negotiate.” Now in reality I do negotiate as
everything is a negation but I have let go of the direct confrontational style of negotiation. I go into each
situation accepting of all possible out coming. As the old saying goes expect the worst, hope for the best,
and take what comes? I try to figure out the most likely outcomes and plan my responses to each ahead
out time in order to make peace with them if you will and limit my emotional reaction. (Emotional reaction in
most cases results in poor decisions and unwanted outcomes). I then set what are my limits and
preplanned responses. As an example... You are coming up for a review you plan on pushing for an
increase in pay. You want five dollars more an hour. Your review goes well and you begin the discussion
about money. In order to be effective you need to have already decided what you will accept. You might
set 3 dollars an hour as you minimum. But you also have to decide ahead of time what your response will
be if they only offer two. Do you take it? Do you say something? Does that affect your future work or
direction? Are you going to feel hurt or angry? You have to go through all of these things ahead of time
in order to deal with the situation effectively and to your best benefit.
It works like this:
Easy - OK if they give me the five dollars, life is good, I am happy I got what I wanted and next time I can
ask for more (take into consideration that you might feel a bit let down for not asking for more if they gave
you the five that easily they may have been willing to give you ten)
Tougher - They offer you three dollars, you have set it as you minimum you take it but feel let down,
somewhat under appreciated, and angry but ok that you at least got something. How do I get more? Do I
need to start looking for a new job.
Tougher Still - They offer you a quarter of an hour raise as a token, almost an insult. They tell you that you’
re not working hard enough and someone junior to you might need to help retrain you. Do you quit? Are
you pissed off? Do you want to put the quarter back up were the rest of their pennies are being tightly
pinched? And storm out…. Now unemployed
Toughest - They Offer you nothing in fact they have decide that you are over paid and are going to lower
your pay by two dollars because you seem incapable of accomplishing the job. You are going to be
changing jobs to a less desirable position. They suspect that you have lied about your abilities but do to
there divine nature and concern for you they are not going to fire you today but if you don’t, “change your
attitude and improve” then they will have no other option but to let you go. Your employment is now on a
day to day bases and you will need to check with them at then end of each day; if you should come back in
Do you just get up and walk out? Do you yell and scream or throw something heavy at them. Do you just
hit them over the head with a chair and then take there wallet, watch, and car keys as you make a break
for the door and then the border?
If more people would walk through these type of sceneries ahead of time then we would not have terms like
“Going Postal” in our common understanding. Anyone who has ever worked and experienced even a
slight amount of frustration and or disappointment understands what it means and can empathized even in
a small way with the situation. The more you have had to deal with these types of situations the more you
empathize or even fantasize that you could get away with that type of extreme response. You end up
rooting for the guy who has lost it, shouting, “Hit him again, the dirty bastard, he deserves it.” As you pass
by on your way to get a cup of coffee and another one of those stale day old donuts or some of that left
over paste salad for the executive meeting.
I had one of these moments at a small company. By my reckoning, I was up for my one year review and as
such a pay raise. I had done well. I meet or exceeded everything that was expected of me. I had
sacrificed time with my family and performed every task requested in a chipper manner going above and
beyond whenever possible. If it had been school, I would have been that guy, the A+ student asking for
and doing extra credit so I could make everyone else look bad and further screw up the grade curve; at
lest that’s how I saw it. In reality, I knew I had it good. A cushy position with little asked of me, plenty of
time to do it, most of the time as much freedom in my schedule as I needed, and making more money then
I had made before. In addition to having had an easy going manager and friendly boss who where not the
same. So as I came up to my review I straight out told the manger I wanted something crazy like twenty
thousand dollars more a year and I needed to be out early twice a week because I was coaching a sports
The manager took it well and asked what I would do if I didn’t get it. I told him, I would do nothing. I knew
the situation but there was no harm in asking. I almost put my demands on the table as a joke. If they
gave it to me awesome; if not, oh well. I just figured they’d tell me I was crazy give me something. The
manager took it to my boss the owner, he said he needed a few days to go over it and likely figure out their
response. I was kind of stunned because they had taken it seriously. They had taken it so seriously that
the owner researched the position I was in with the help of the HR department. He checked the prevailing
wage statistics and the local market for compensation and demand for my position and the related jobs.
After two days I was called in the owner’s office with the manager. We joked and chatted for a few minute
and then the door was closed. I sat across from the owner with the manager on a chair off to the side.
The joking faded and they both got solemn, though I must say the manager had a more curious look upon
him as if he just wondered what my response was going to be.
The owner then look at me and said “Nothing….”
No not silence but the word “nothing.” He said, “We’re not going to give you anything.”
My reaction was plain. Almost no response. I had prepared for this.
That is why when he then continued, “In fact, I am over paying you now for what you are doing.”
I said, “I could make more right now, elsewhere.”
He said, “I researched the trend and if I made more it would be consulting but the market was thin for
consultants right now. And that would not include benefits.”
I smiled at this benefits had been a bit of a joke to me for sometime. It was a ploy employers used to make
it sound like they were giving you more then they really were.
I said, “OK.” in a calm manner.
He went on, I think, to try to get me to responded; to get my goat so to speak.
He said, “You needed to be more available. You have been out too early to many times.”
Keeping in mind that I was hourly, I only got paid for what I worked, and I was getting everything done they
had asked and on time; it was obvious this was to push me. So then he brought up my request, as he put
it, to be out early twice a week for family related activities; I was coaching my kids in their various sports.
I said, “It was fine about the money but it would be nice to have the time. “
His responses was incredulous. He said in a very condescending manner, “I can’t give you that; I don’t
ever let me managers do that.”
OK, this one got to me. I was pissed off but held me tong.
I said, “Really. You don’t let your manager have time off with their families.” I said it in a very insinuating
He stepped back from his manner on this point and said, “Well, not without requesting the time off on a
case by case bases.”
Then he explained that I could request it off each time but it was completely at the company’s discretion to
approve it or not and by company, since he was my boss, it meant I could ask him and if he felt like it he
would grant me the privilege. I did bit my tongue and we ended the meeting in pleasant spirits the
manager and I walk back to our office together as he tried to read me and my reaction. I realized what he
was doing and I stopped us in an open space before we got back to the office. He asked what I thought
I said, “The money was fine.”
He knew that. I had told him that in my review.
I told him, “The owner was out of his mind if he thinks I give a rat’s ass about what he does with his
I said, “I work per hour and my time outside of work; off the clock is mine own.”
I told him, “I could put in a request for time off but they were not requests. I was simply informing them
when I was going to be gone. The first time my request was denied it was the last day I worked there.
Other than that everything was still good.”
I am sure the manger did not take everything back to the owner but the next day he did come back with my
review to sign and he had gone out of his way to get me something. It was a dollar raise. It was the effort
that made a difference. I had of course already put may resume back online and was deciding when I
would go. In response to the situation, I understood their position. Although they praised my work, they
doubted my commitment to the company. It was an emotional need for them or in fact him, the owner, to
feel as if I was available to him, at his beck and call. Money did not matter, within some reason. I was
already working 40 a week. I could work over time and they didn’t care as long as they felt I was there for
them. So of course, I began working 60 to 70 hours a week the next day. Mostly in the early morning
when it would not interfere with my family and it would still allow me to leave at 330 or 4 in order to coach.
Each and every situation you encounter will be filled with myriad causes and effects as the people involved
bring much of their baggage (life experience, wants, needs, and desires) with them. In each and every
situation you will need to focus on your own interests and how each result will impact your direction and
situation. It is not a matter of selfishness it is a matter objective analysis. If you choice to be altruistic then
make that a conscious well informed choice.
The Lesson to Learn:
Outside of knowing that people are going to do what they see as in their best interest, People are
unpredictable without a full understanding of their past experiences and their present situation as well as
some insight into their hopes and desires. Be aware of this and be prepared to respond or hold back a
response until you are able to determine how the situation can work for you.
The Brutal Truth:
You have to look out for you (and yours if you are a family man) and there is nothing wrong with that. No
one knows you; you’re wants, needs, and desires better then you. And no one is going to look out for you
more or better then you. You do not owe a company or a boss or even a friend anything simply because
they have a relationship with you. Your commitment to anyone outside of your family (and even within the
family under certain situations) is based upon a mutual back and forth. A trading of this for that an