Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Tips for negotiating salary with a sociopath

In today’s economy, more companies than ever are cutting back on things like salary, benefits, and criminal background checks for upper management. So whether you are seeking a promotion, a raise, or are up for your review, you may feel lucky to even have a job. And after a quick peek inside your boss’s industrial-sized freezer, you should also feel lucky to have your life.

But you don’t have to settle. With the help of a few simple tips, you can easily escape both the metaphorical prison of middle management and your boss’s very real underground prison full of creepy moths.

Make a positive first impression.
Always start off the discussion with a strong, firm handshake. This will demonstrate that you’re willing and able to claw your way not just up the corporate ladder, but also up the slippery clay walls of your torture pit. A limp handshake however, or one of those awkward handshakes where you accidentally grab just the fingertips, will give the impression that you’d happily rub the lotion on the skin if threatened with the hose.

Know what you’re worth.
Before you even begin negotiations, ask yourself a few questions to determine your value. Do you have any special training or managerial skills? Did you get your MBA? Do you have enough supple, unblemished skin to create a full-length ball gown, or do you have barely enough for a belt?

Expect the unexpected.
Crazy things can happen during heated negotiations. Some people may become irrationally angry, while others become timid. Some people may burst into tears, while others burst into flames. Negotiations can be emotional. Also your boss secretly replaced your laundry detergent with an extremely flammable liquid several weeks ago.

Play the game.
It takes great diplomacy, sensitivity and perhaps even manipulation to be successful in negotiation. And it takes exactly those same things, minus diplomacy and sensitivity, to be a successful sociopath. So during your discussion, don’t be surprised if your boss begins to construct elaborate lies to manipulate you into submission. For example, he may try to trick you into thinking that he was actually responsible for that big account you won, or that the glass of water he’s placed in front of you has not been poisoned.

The best way to maintain power in this situation is to turn the tables and one-up these stories. If he claims to be a Six Sigma black belt, casually mention that you invented synergy. If he returns from the bathroom and says that he just threw up a tapeworm, tell him you also just threw up a tapeworm, but inside your tapeworm you discovered a miniature version of him, who then threw up another tapeworm. And that tapeworm had a gun.

Don’t take no for an answer.
A common mistake people make when negotiating is to assume that when someone says no, the discussion is over. But when you really think about it, the word “no” is just the word “yes,” made up of different letters and meaning. So if you get a no the first time you ask, try asking a second time under different circumstances, like right after he’s taken a bite of someone.

If you still don’t get the answer you want, try getting creative. Don’t just write the number you’re looking for on a piece of paper and slide it across his desk. Instead, write it on a tiny scroll and attach that scroll to a tiny monkey wearing tiny human clothes. After all, only a monster could refuse a monkey in a hilarious vest. 

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