In the workplace, I value psychological safety more than I value salary. The salary negotiation strategy that I used has two purposes. The obvious one is to increase my salary up to the limit that the employer can realistically afford. The other one is to have an initial confrontation with the employer to learn how conflict resolution works there, because salary negotiation is a kind of conflict between two parties. Here is how I do it...

  1. I say that my expectation is market rate for someone with my skills and experience. That's all I say unless I am really pressed, which usually does not happen.  
  2. I sometimes add that, if they were going to put another $10K on the table, that that would be less attractive to me than would an additional day off every fortnight.
  3. When the offer comes, which means when the person tells me the offer, I repeat it, and then I stay silent for about 30-seconds, thinking about whether I can make that work. Sometimes that is enough for them to increase the offer. If they do not increase it during those 30-seconds, then I say, yes, that sounds fine.

That's my entire strategy.

#1 is to encourage them to state a number first, which, I think, is important.

#2 is to let them know that I am looking for less work and not more money - that's good info for them to know.

#3 reveals any extra money that they might have available, but without applying excessive pressure. If there were extra room at the top that was available to the person presenting the offer, those 30-seconds are enough to reveal it.

If they press me for a number early in the process, I usually say that, "I would rather we get to know each other more first before talking numbers." If at this early stage they really press, that's often a red flag for me that the company isn't a good fit. But in any case, I will give then a range, with my ideal at the bottom and ideal + at the top. So, I might say, $120K to $140K. In that case, if they can afford $120, then they'll think, whew, we can just get him.

Encouraging the employer to give a number first comes from What Colour is Your Parachute.