How to Negotiate

Last night I was very lucky to be invited to speak on the Climbing the Career Ladder session which was part of the highly successful Annual Society of Young Publishers Conference 2020. I was joined by two other fantastic speakers, Raakhi Vadera from Pan Macmillan and Karine Nicpon from Atwood Tate.

During the panel there were some key themes that came out around communication and confidence. The two C’s that are crucial to getting ahead in your career! There was also a call for more reading material on negotiating and I volunteered to write a blog so here it is! 

Negotiation skills are also important when asking for a promotion or pay rise. You negotiate every day, probably without even realising it. So how should you negotiate and how can you be good at it? And what is holding you back from being a fantastic negotiator?

  • Fear of facing direct conflict
  • Being out of control
  • Offering or accepting a lower offer than we actually want
  • Self-conscious about not understanding or asking questions
  • Avoid answering tough questions

In this blog I outline how a great negotiation process should run. You can take this process and apply it to any situation you need to negotiate in, whether you are negotiating your rent, a pay rise or even who in your house/team is going to make the next cup of tea! 


By looking at why we avoid negotiating, we can combat these simply by being prepared.

  • Know you value
  • Know your bottom line
  • Know the market
  • Think about what objections might come up
  • What do you think is your opponent’s bottom line
  • Where would you be happy to agree
  • Where would you walk away
  • If you cannot get what you want, what else can you get that would mean you can walk away happy

Next, you need to prepare your questions to ask to find out what the bargaining arena looks like.

What is the bargaining arena?

Imagine both sides of the negotiation have a bottom line and where they want to agree. If you are unsure on where the other side will want to agree, prepare questions at the start so you can qualify this information. Remember, they will also put in their lowest/ highest price, knowing that they will need to bargain to meet in the middle.

Think about it from their point of view. What might their objections to your proposal be and, more importantly, what can you offer them in exchange for the things that you want?

A good negotiation is mutually beneficial, where both sides leave the bargaining arena happy. Therefore anticipating what this might look like to the other person in advance, will help you know which buttons to press and levers to pull!

Finally, invite the person you want to negotiate with to a meeting.


This is where with all your preparation and confidence you need to be brave and just go for it!

The best way to negotiate is face to face. For now, this would be via Zoom or other video conferencing channels as it gives you can see and hear instant reactions to your proposal and questions. Did you know that 55% of communication in a conversation is non-verbal! So if you can’t see the person you are negotiating with you will lose 55% of the messages coming through. If face-to-face is not possible the next best approach is via the phone. 38% communication is tone, so you will at least be able to read the situation via that. The WORST way to negotiate is purely by email! You are relying on just 7% of communication through the actual words. 

This is your chance to communicate clearly what it is that you want from the negotiation process. (IMPORTANT: If looking for a pay rise, the usual advice is to ask for more than you would be happy to be given so that you can come down a little in this process. If you ask for the exact figure you want you may walk away with less. As I said before, similarly to you, the pay rise they offer you may not be the highest level they can actually afford and may come in lower with the expectation that you will negotiate and ask for more.)

A word on listening, make sure you do listen actively in any conversations you are having, it sounds very simple but can be forgotten. Information is power and everything you hear from the other person could be useful to you in your negotiation.

When you ask the questions you have prepared, you need to make sure you deeply listen to the response. Take notes and wait for your turn to ask further questions to gain clarification.

After the initial conversation, do not be surprised if another meeting is needed to continue the negotiation. To make a deal happen, there may be a sign off needed by someone else in the company. Also if in your initial meeting there are issues that come up that you want to consider, don’t be afraid to pause and say let me consider this and talk again.

Don’t accept something in haste simply because you want the conversation done!

No agreement reached…

Sometimes it is best to walk away, and that is okay because then you know where you stand! BUT! Make sure you do communicate that you are walking away and leave on a positive note. Offer closure.  You can return back to your research and demonstrate the reasons for this not being a good deal because it does not match the market or your values.

Coming back to the pay rise scenario, if you are not able to get a pay rise during this process, you should walk away understanding why not, what you need to do to get a pay rise, how long that might take and how else you can develop during in this time. Once you have the answers to these questions, you can then make a decision if this is reasonable or if you need to start having a look across the market for a more suitable role.

Success – agreement is reached

Thank them for their time and for reaching this agreement. Both parties should be walking away happy, and this is a Win Win scenario which is brilliant. Make sure you thank them!


Follow up, thanking them again and confirming the details of the agreement. It’s not over though, you now need to live up to your side of the bargain!

In the pay rise example, what was it that you agreed made you deserving of a pay rise? You need to keep doing it and commit to the development laid out.

And don’t forget to celebrate the wins of the person you negotiated with; be positive about any aspects that they came away from the bargaining area with.


  • Have a clear idea of what you’re looking for and your limits
  • Anticipate what the other person will be looking for AND you can offer them in exchange 
  • Meet to discuss
  • Be clear on the outcomes of the meeting
  • Follow up and stick to your side of the bargain

Inspired Selection really cares about careers in publishing and through our blog and webinars we are aiming to distribute as much advice and publishing insight as we can.  If there are topics you would like to see us discuss on our next webinar or blog about on here then please do write to tell us by emailing