There are tons of career skills you can learn now that will be useful throughout all your years working, and negotiation is definitely one of them. Whether you’re negotiating your starting salary or a raise, or setting up a deal on behalf of your company or client at work, you should be able to advocate for yourself in a variety of settings like the badass that you are. We all know how important it is to be confident and prepared entering a negotiation, but beyond that, most advice for getting what you want out of professional discussions is pretty generic. We tapped some seriously smart career experts to get their tips on how to get to win-win ASAP.

two businesswomen

1. Never apologize. Sometimes it’s hard to ask for what you want, especially if you know it’s not likely to go over well. Here’s the thing: The more confident you are when making your ask, the higher your chances of ultimately getting what you’re asking for. “I encourage women to say the words out loud a few times and to focus on not apologizing,” says Catherine Merritt, founder of MUMZY, a crowdfunding site for moms. After all, why should you say “sorry” for something you want or deserve? She also recommends practicing “not defaulting to ‘um,’ ‘you know’ or other fillers” in order to show that you’re sure of what you’re speaking about, regardless of what that is.

2. Make your presence known. Don’t shrink into the background, says executive coach Merideth Mehlberg. “Sit at the table. Don’t sit at the back of the room. Sidle right up to the table in a meeting, especially one where you feel you may be a bit intimidated or outnumbered,” she suggests. Jess Chua, a certified career coach, also notes that it’s important to “be aware of your body language and speech delivery. Many messages are conveyed through nonverbal cues like posture and gestures. Record a video of yourself in a mock negotiation session and make notes on areas for improvement. Being prepared will help you be more comfortable and confident in an actual negotiation scenario.”

3. Know your limits. A clear idea of what you need is not only crucial to getting what you want at work but also in other parts of your life. “Negotiation is all about setting boundaries and deciding what you will and will not accept,” says Angela Copeland, Career Coach at Copeland Coaching. “We don’t often think about it, but we are essentially negotiating throughout the day. It’s important to take time to reflect on what you want and will and won’t accept into your life.”

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4. Gauge the response ahead of time. Obvi, you should go into any negotiation situation prepared with all your facts and talking points in order, but Copeland recommends taking your prep one step further if you can. “Don’t wait until you’re giving a big presentation to reveal your ideas for the first time. Talk with a few insiders in advance to get their feedback, and more importantly, their buy in. If you know you have supporters in the room, you’re more likely to move your agenda forward,” she says. It makes sense that knowing you have some people on your team will give you a boost when you’re making your case.

5. Don’t immediately go on the offensive. There’s definitely a time and place for being assertive, but you don’t have to start out with guns blazing in every negotiation situation. “Breathe and let there be space in the conversation. Put out your position, and then stop talking. Give the other person(s) time to think, process and respond,” says Mehlberg. Jessica Sweet, career coach at Wishing Well Coaching adds that “unfortunately, women who advocate too strongly for themselves can be seen in a negative light.” Annoying, but true. “If you want to be a master negotiator,” she says, “you must take this into account. Research has shown that women who create a ‘joining’ relationship at the negotiating table do better than those who create an adversarial one.”

6. Use networking to your advantage. “Even more than preparation inside the office, you should prepare outside the office,” says Copeland. “We’re often taught that if we work hard, we’ll be rewarded. But while we’re at work toiling away, our coworkers may be on the golf course or taking long lunches together. The relationships that are built outside of the office can greatly influence our interactions (and success) at work. Even though it may seem like a waste of time, plan for things that will solidify your relationships,” she suggests. It’s also helpful to understand what motivates your colleagues or other people you’re trying to reach a deal with. “Are they trying to meet a certain budget or certain sales goals? Are they trying to protect their team or grow technology? If you understand what motivates others, you are more likely to put together a pitch that will resonate with them.”

How do you negotiate at work? Have any tips of your own for us? Let us know @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)