3 Surprising Science-Backed Factors That Can Radically Affect Your Salary Negotiations

When you think about factors that could impact your next payrise, your performance, presentation and punctuality might come to mind. They’re important elements of many jobs, but there’s a lot more to a successful salary negotiation.

In our last blog we explored how the power to persuade can improve your negotiation outcomes. Now let’s look at the impact of environmental factors.

There are three in particular that can be surprisingly potent game-changers: the time, the weather and the medium. Don’t plan your next salary negotiation without considering how you can use these components to your advantage.

1. The time

You won’t always have a say in scheduling the time of your negotiation or job interview but, where possible, suggest an early time.

Aiming for a 9am-10am meeting is a science-backed play. The serial position effect is a psychological phenomenon dictating which information people will recall more effectively. Being first up for the day gives you what’s called a primacy effect advantage, meaning your negotiation will leave a stronger impression (Murdock, 1962).

When you’re more easily recalled, you’re thought to be memorable and your counterpart will assume this is due to how great you are. This is particularly useful if you’re competing with others for a job or promotion (Whittlesea, 1993).

If a morning time isn’t available, the end of the day is your next best option. If you’re the final interviewee for the day, the recency effect can give you a similarly favourable result.

2. The weather

The weather’s influence on our mood and behaviour should not be underestimated.

While research shows that bad weather is more likely to lead to a bad mood, and even an increase in violent behaviour, good weather has the opposite effect (Cohn, 1993).

Sunshine for success

You can leverage this phenomenon by simply coordinating your next salary negotiation with a sunny day.

Indeed, studies demonstrate that if the sun is shining down on your negotiation or interview, your counterpart is more likely to evince helpful behaviours ranging from acquiescence to cooperation and collaborative problem solving (Baron, 1990; Forgas, 1999; Carnevale & Isen, 1986)

Rain down small talk

Obviously you have no control over the weather no matter how hard you try, but a dreary day doesn’t have to mean a poor outcome for your negotiation.

Research has shown that chatting about the bad weather enables people to acknowledge why they might have a poor outlook that particular day (Schwartz & Clore, 1983). Better yet, they then make a distinct effort to adjust their disposition. The key is to mention the gloomy day right from the start.

3. The medium

In our technology-driven, fast-paced society, there are countless forums in which to facilitate meetings.

So which is best for a favourable negotiation outcome? Believe it or not, that depends on your gender.

Female negotiators

According to researchers Roderick and Swaab (2008), female negotiators will receive the best result from a salary negotiation when face-to-face with their counterpart.

Communicating face-to-face enables female negotiators to build a better rapport and send their message across clearly and directly.

Male negotiators

Email is the ideal medium for men when it comes to negotiations.

In-person communications can make us feel tense, and researchers have suggested that this tension can cause some male negotiators to call on dominant behaviours that aren’t conducive to successful negotiating.

Finding a happy medium

If you’re a man and your negotiation counterpart is a woman (or vice versa), deciding on the best medium can seem complex.

Whichever medium you end up using for your negotiations, this tactic really means you should aim for:

  • Less nonverbal cues when negotiating with a man.
  • More nonverbal cues when negotiating with a woman.

There’s more to a successful negotiation than meets the eye. Take control of these three environmental factors where possible and you’ll enhance the outcome of your next salary negotiation.

Equip yourself with even more tactics and get the best result from your salary negotiation by downloading our free Harvard-based negotiation planner here to get started.  To learn more about interest based negotiation, we recommend the book “Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher & William Ury.” 


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