As an employment lawyer who has worked with 100s of client in negotiating their separation package and improving severance pay, and consulting with 100s of others that have taken a do-it-yourself approach, I see many examples of bad negotiation thinking and attitudes. These attitudes, or “sins”, are natural expressions of a sense of frustration with unfair treatment at time of employment termination, but they are predictively destructive to any healthy negotiating process about getting better severance.
If you are considering negotiating with your current or former employer, ask yourself if you are projecting any of these attitudes as a key component of your message:
Anger: Picking a fight, making harsh allegations about your company, human resources group, managers, co-workers, etc. Fighting words are not rewarded with better terms.
Gluttony: Asking for too many things, over-indulgence in your list of asks for you to be satisfied. The complexity and length of your demands needs to be disciplined and constrained.
Lust for Revenge: Expecting executives, managers, co-workers, to be disciplined / fired in order to satisfy you. You can’t change the employer, don’t try.
Greed: Asking for too much, overstating what you believe to be fair. In all negotiations there are limits to what the other party will genuinely consider; being unreasonable ends the discussion.
Envy: Basing your negotiating position on what other terminating employees may have received in the past. The employer has a right to change prior practices, and treat people differently; telling them that they don’t have this right is just picking a fight.
Pride: Arguing that you were the best employee imaginable, that the decision to terminate your employment was clearly wrong. You can’t win this argument.
Sloth: Waiting until the last moment and/or making a weak effort to present your proposal for a better separation package. Your timing and energy matters.
Ready to negotiate and you’ve decided to do it yourself? Check your attitude, you won’t get a second chance.