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3 Steps to Negotiate Successfully and Get the Right Deal

The time has come. You are about to negotiate a deal with your boss. You step into the ring, all eyes on you, ready for victory.

Wait a minute. Negotiation with your boss should NOT be about winning. To be successful when negotiating terms – such as a more flexible working pattern or increased training packages, or more money – you should consider the needs of both parties.

Previously, we discussed how to prepare for negotiation. Now, we get into the nitty-gritty and reveal three essential tips for negotiating successfully with your boss. Put down your boxing gloves, they won’t be necessary. Rather, enter with an open mind and reconfigure what it means to you to be ‘successful’ in negotiations.

Build a trusting relationship

Rather than approaching negotiation with all guns blazing, you should treat it as a discussion that hears out everyone’s wants and needs. It can even be a relationship building exercise between you and your boss, where you reveal what makes you tick as a veterinarian and the terms necessary to achieve your goals.

When asking for feedback, you might say: ‘how does that sound to you?’, ‘what would make you happy in this situation?’, ‘how can we make this work together?’. By generating discussion, you start to build trust in the relationship. Your boss will know that you don’t just have your own interests at heart, but those of the practice too.

Be careful what you wish for…

…because you might just get it. If you negotiate HARD and manage to score a great deal with your boss, you must be able to deliver. You might negotiate a large pay rise, but that is not where the work stops. You will now have to ensure that you prove your worth to the practice by continuing to meet the needed standard of care plus generating a higher level of income that makes it possible for the practice to pay you what you wish.

Be flexible

There are three typical approaches to negotiation – two of which often damage relationships and do not consider the needs of both parties.First of all, meet the bully. They will storm into a meeting with a rigid mindset and argue/demand, rather than negotiate, for their wants.

Babies behave in a similar way. They kick up a fuss when they don’t get what they want, and become overly emotional rather than methodically negotiating a deal that works for both parties.

Secondly is the approach taken by the toddlers –  manipulation and bargaining. They are in danger of pushing their boss into a corner by claiming, ‘if I do this then you should do that…’. As we learnt earlier, effective negotiation should be a constructive discussion, not a barrage of bargaining, manipulation and power struggles.

Which leads us to the third style, that of open minded problem solver that you should try to assume  to best achieve your outcomes. Indeed, vets are inherently good problem solvers so this should be easy for you – the trick is to be clear about what you need and are prepared to deliver or give up in order that everyone feels like they won. Through discussion and hearing your boss out, you could strike up a deal that you never imagined in the first place, but that is mutually beneficial!

Sometimes, you can’t have it all immediately. Be reasonable. Perhaps you would like the practice to provide more training opportunities. Therefore, if your practice is spending more money on training, you should not expect to receive a hefty pay rise too. It’s all about balance, understanding and considering your medium to long term goals (instead of expecting things immediately).

Follow these three tips, and you will begin to negotiate more effectively  and gain benefits that work for both you and your boss. Remember, if you don’t ask, you don’t get! So long as you ask with understanding, compassion and an open mind, your boss should be more than attentive. Good negotiations also have the wonderful side effect of building trust when both sides keep to their commitments, which helps to create a better workplace for all. 

If you found these tips useful, you should check out our FREE webinar, 4 Steps to a Happy and Successful Career as a Veterinarian. As well as explaining three fundamental mistakes to avoid as a veterinarian, this webinar – presented by Dr Dave himself – will give you a framework to success. We believe that every vet deserves to be successful and happy.


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