These are turbulent times.

The career goals we defined for ourselves last year or at the beginning of the calendar year are now in the rear-view mirror. Your hopes for a raise, a promotion, more flexible office hours, buying in company shares, better overtime conditions now seem like an insensitive request to talk about when there is so much global uncertainty. You may have already heard friends or colleagues been asked to use their holiday entitlements to minimize costs for the company, many have been made redundant, others have been forced into retirement. While these cases tend to push our psyche to ask for less, in uncertain times you can still bring up key issues to negotiate or to define. I would like to share 5 tips that help you with negotiating with your employer during uncertain times.

“…in uncertain times you can still bring up key issues to negotiate or to define.”

Choose the right communication tool.

In the absence of a face-to-face meeting, videoconference tools such as Skype, Teams or Zoom, are likely to be the best alternative to have an initial discussion as they will offer ample verbal and nonverbal cues, such as tone of voice, eye contact, and body language. They also allow the participation of multiple parties, such as your boss and the HR Director. At a later stage, you can use email to exchange proposals or contracts. Before you put something in writing to a broader audience, how about sending a quick WhatsApp to your boss or giving her a quick call to ensure that you are aligned on the agenda or topics at hand?

Take the time to prepare in writing

We have a tendency to prepare in writing for face-to-face external meetings, while we consider internal meetings or video/phone calls as less important events. It is essential to prepare well in writing, especially if something important is at stake (like your contract terms). Learn to prepare your arguments on paper and have your notes structured in an easily comprehendible way, so that when you need to look back on them, you can quickly pick out the key points and references.

Preserve the relationship

Do not underestimate the power of relationship-building during a time of crisis! In times of high stress and insecurity, both in a professional and personal context, it is easier to lose control and revert to positional bargaining. Unless the topic is the termination of your contract, you will continue to work with the people you are negotiating with so keep a collaborative spirit and make sure that you are able to reach a satisfactory solution for both parties. We are all mixing our professional space with our home space, whether it is via videoconferencing or via after-hour calls. Lines get blurred and it can be easy to get frustrated when we are working longer hours than before. Stay level headed and aim to preserve the relationship as best you can.

Do not be pressed to take a decision

Your employer may have already settled on a solution for a long time and may now ask you to give a reply within a few seconds. Do not be trapped to give a reply right away. Give yourself time for creativity, so that you can make a counterproposal that better meets your needs while respecting your employer’s interests

Consider postponing your discussion

If it isn’t urgent, consider postponing your discussion and define a specific date for the meeting. For instance, even if March/April is often the period when raises are given to employees, it may not be the best time to ask for a raise. As in this uncertain economic climate, little to no employer would approve the request. Unfortunately, given the nature of the pandemic to force businesses to work from home, you lose the benefits of a face-to-face meeting rather than a call or videoconferencing to discuss the raise. Your chances of getting an approval increase in face-to-face meetings.

Since 2005, Giuseppe Conti has been an award-winning Lecturer, recognized for his lively and interactive training workshops across a number of the leading business schools in Europe: Cambridge, EPFL, ESADE, HEC Lausanne, HEC Paris, IESE, IMD, Imperial College, INSEAD, London Business School, Oxford, RSM, SDA Bocconi, UBIS, University of Geneva and University of St Gallen.

More recently, he has become a Professor in Negotiation & Influencing. Giuseppe regularly runs negotiation workshops in four continents. Corporate leaders from multinational corporations and individuals from over 110 different countries have attended his workshops.