Negotiating with Your Boss

Posted on May 26, 2021
Negotiating with Your Boss

In these challenging times, it is likely that you will have more occasion to negotiate with your boss.

For example, this could include negotiating for deadline extensions, additional resources, personal time off, approval of new projects and programs, or changes in work hours and salary. It is crucial at these times to remember that negotiating is an influencing process. The following are some tips for how to negotiate more successfully with your boss:

Tip 1: Identify specifically what action(s) you would like your boss to do by the end of the negotiation.  Some examples are as follows:

  • Agree to a request
  • Sign a requisition form
  • Make a change

Tip 2: Start with a common goal first, not your specific request.  The common goal is what you and your boss share that gives you equal status, even though your boss has more authority.  The common goal can also be a larger benefit or purpose of the negotiation, or the “why?” behind it. Some examples include:

  • Improving productivity
  • Supporting clients and customers better
  • Enhancing quality based on performance standards
  • Protecting health and safety
  • Becoming more competitive in the marketplace
  • Promoting better teamwork and collaboration
  • Ensuring growth and innovation
  • Adapting better to change

Tip 3: Next, state your “ask” or recommendation very concisely, without too much background information. For example, you could say, “I am requesting your approval of an additional employee to ensure that we continue to support our clients and customers during the pandemic; as you know, we are short-staffed right now, so this is really essential.”

Tip 4:  Keep it short: Busy leaders and decision-makers do not have a lot of time to listen to background information.  One way to keep it short is to follow the 3 R’s formula below:

Request or Recommendation: What is your ask?

Risks and Gains:  What are the risks if your boss says no, and what are the gains if your boss says yes?

Relevant Supporting Information: What does your boss need to know to say “yes” to what you are negotiating? Do not include any information that does not support your negotiation or persuade your boss to grant your request.

These four tips will help you focus on the key purpose of negotiation, which is to persuade the other party to say “yes” to your request.  The final tip is to practise, practise, practise!


Gail LevittGail Levitt is the facilitator for Negotiating and Influencing Skills That Win Results (starting July 14, 2021). For more information and to register, visit the program’s web page.