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4 Phrases to Avoid in Salary Talks, According to a Negotiation Expert

4 Phrases to Avoid in Salary Talks, According to a Negotiation Expert
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  • When negotiating a raise, your choice of words can make all the difference.
  • Claudia Kimich is a negotiation expert, and she advises her clients to avoid certain phrases.
  • She tells clients to avoid softeners like “actually” or “I think,” for example.

Negotiating your salary is an unpopular task, but it’s an important part of professional life.

Whether it’s an internal transfer, a new job, or a continued battle with your current employer, those who want a good salary usually have to haggle over it. Those who are smart about it usually earn more than their colleagues. Even if their work performance is the same.

There’s no set recipe for successful salary negotiations. After all, your starting position is different every time. Employers will react differently to your arguments and strategies. What you might be able to convince one person with, another other will reject.

Intermediate, you can improve your negotiating skills and your chances of getting a higher salary through practice.

If you search the Internet for tips on how to prepare, you’ll come across advice on how to determine your own market value, what good arguments are, or what you should pay attention to in terms of body language.

However, a crucial point in a negotiation is the language you use when putting your demands across. Language is a key factor in determining whether someone comes across as confident and convincing or not.

Claudia Kimich knows which phrases you should avoid when asking for more money. She’s an expert in self-marketing and salary negotiations. The computer scientist has written several books and regularly prepares her clients for negotiations.

1. Avoid hypothetical language

If you use hypothetical language, you sound unclear.

“And unclear language suggests uncertainty,” Kimich says. Therefore, refrain from sentences that contain “would have,” “would,” “could.”

If you ask for more money, it shouldn’t sound like a request. Phrases like “I could imagine that $80,000 would be justified” don’t sound very convincing.

It would be better to say “For my performance, I feel that $80,000 a year is appropriate.”

2. Avoid “softeners”

There are several other terms that can take away the impact of your demands.

These include words like, “believe,” “actually,” “but,” “virtually,” or “in fact,” according to Kimich.

“Someone only uses the word “actually” when they want to leave a back door open linguistically,” says the negotiation expert.

When negotiating your salary, it’s important to show that you stand behind your statements, so you should delete this word.

You should also avoid using the word “but”.

It also suggests that you have doubts. “Yes, I will take on the new job, but…” Therefore, replace the “but” with an “and” or leave it out altogether.

Also, if you constantly include intensifiers like “really” in your sentence, you come across as if you have to reassure yourself that your statement is true. Instead of using filler words like these, Kimich recommends taking a clear position and stating it.

You also don’t “believe” that the boss should give you a raise, but you know that you deserve a higher salary based on your performance. The word “believe” has no place in a negotiation.

3. Moderate your feelings

If you’re nervous during a salary negotiation, then say so. “Everyone gets nervous,” Kimich says. “And no one takes offense.”

Her tip is to moderate your feelings instead of resisting them. Because if you don’t, you’ll just draw more attention to the fact that you’re nervous and that will just increase the tension.

4. Practice before the negotiation

The good news is that anyone can train themselves to speak clearly. Because watering down our sentences often happens subconsciously. So try to turn the tables.

If you’re constantly using the word “actually,” take 15 minutes a day and use it even more often in those. “Consciously build it into each of your sentences three times during that time,” Kimich says. “After that, you can just as consciously leave it out.”

Or sit down with friends and point out to each other for a while when you use words you really want to avoid. Kimich does a similar exercise in her seminars. In groups of two, she gets her clients to talk. As soon as a word filler, hypothetical language, or something similar comes up, one of the two conversation partners makes a cracking sound with a toy.

This soon gets annoying, which is why this exercise only lasts a maximum of 10 minutes. According to the negotiation expert, it helps to become aware of how often such words and phrases creep in.

If you notice that you fall back into old patterns during a negotiation, Kimich advises you to wrap a rubber band around your hand and snap it once briefly. That way, you can refocus on the words you were trying to avoid.

What’s important in all of this is to remember not to be too hard on yourself.

“This self-punishment serves no purpose at all,” Kimich says. No one masters language immediately.

Take the time to practice regularly and you’ll see all those words and phrases begin to disappear from your vocabulary.

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