Using Psychology to Negotiate a Higher Salary

Psychology is at the core of sales and marketing strategies in the western world. Much of the foundation for our current approach to marketing products, services and ideas was originated by Edward Bernays, considered to be the father of modern public relations. Bernays was the nephew of Sigmund Freud, and his psychology-based approach has been used to market and sell everything from food, fashion and cars to politicians.

Our method in the career industry is very similar, in that we are controlling the presentation of information to manage perception and “sell” a candidate. And this process extends to negotiating salary, taken from the handbooks of professional negotiators and mediators. Achieving your objective means following the psychology of negotiating and following a few “golden” rules when it comes to bargaining. One such “rule” for a salary over and above the actual desired amount in order to allow the hiring/HR manager some “wiggle” room and extend a lower counter offer, so ideally in the end both parties are satisfied with a resulting compromise.

Now a professor at Columbia Business School who teaches a course on managerial negotiations says that using psychology can be beneficial when it comes to landing a higher salary. A study suggests that candidates who ask for a precise amount, say $126, 205, as opposed to $125,000, are more likely to receive a higher counter offer. This monetary precision lends the impression that the candidate has thoroughly researched the market salaries for the position in his/her geography, rather than simply select a round number, which may be considered to be an arbitrary amount. Whether this strategy is effective in the real world remains to be seen, but employing this type of perception management will likely guarantee you’ll capture the interviewer’s full attention!