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Choice Words Master negotiator Ron Shapiro offers a crash course in effective communication. 

What can you do to prepare for a pitch?

I use a simple, systematic approach that I call the three Ds: draft, devil’s advocate, and deliver. Start by writing out every point you want to make or feeling you want to express. Next, find a friend or associate who can objectively suggest revisions. Finally, practice—preferably with another person. By doing so, you’ll not only prepare yourself for questions that might arise, but you’ll increase your comfort level, allowing you to communicate with confidence.

Any tips on asking for a raise?

Craft a message that outlines your accomplishments, your compensation history, and, if known, comparable salaries. You should have a number in mind. Once you’re in your boss’s office, express appreciation for opportunities, yet be firm in discussing your contributions. Anticipate questions that might arise, and have answers ready. Speak with self-assurance, and remember that it’s what you say and how you say it that counts.

What about when proposing budget changes?

Be clear about the funds you seek and what they’ll be used for.  While communicating your request, show that you’ve done your research by noting precedents and comparable situations. Know that it’s OK to ask for a little more than you need, but stay within reason. If you’re denied, try not to take it personally. Remember, it’s the idea being rejected, not you.

What types of language should you avoid altogether?

In any scenario, keep from using words that attack or show anger. You should also steer clear of generalizations and overstatements—things like always, never, and all. And avoid unreasonable demands. Trust and credibility take time to build and can be easily lost if you fall into these communication traps.


Ronald M. Shapiro is the author of Perfecting Your Pitch: How to Succeed in Business and in Life by Finding Words That Work.



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