Mark Anthony: Good morning everyone! I am Mark Anthony. I have worked with thousands of business people over the last 20 years on helping them negotiate a wide range of deals, salaries and successful conclusions to their negotiations. Please send me your questions on various opportunities you are currently negotiating or exploring. Look forward to helping you.

McLean, Va.: Off topic but what is better -- being fired or resigning?

Mark Anthony: Resigning puts you in better control for future salary negotiations. Although I don't know how that would affect unemployment for you.

District Heights, Md.: How do you ask for more money and a flexible schedule for work/life balance without looking like a slacker? (I'm not.)

Mark Anthony: This is really an issue of you communicating efficiency and value to the employer. The balance is a benefit to you, retaining workers and high productivity is the benefit to the employer. You need to make a plan that will communicate to the employer that he/she is getting the benefit that they need.

Danville, Va.: Just curious: How did you get into this field? What did you study to learn negotiation techniques? Can you talk a little about your background?

Mark Anthony: 20 years ago I established a publishing company while in college where I created licensing agreements with colleges coast to coast. That led to negotiating licensing agreements with major universities as well as local and national companies that wanted to create sponsorship agreements for the college market. Universities wanted a deal where they got everything and gave very little which was unacceptable for my company. By learning to communicate in a style that had them express their needs and concerns that allowed me to structure a deal that met their needs while protecting my interests. Essentially I started creating deals where everyone felt like they won. In every body wins deals -- led to many referrals and very long term agreements. Through teaching my staff and numerous female clients how to negotiate it became clear that women were often better suited to listen, problem solve and focus on both parties needs rather than just their own. Basically women were focused on everybody winning and men were focusing on a competition.

Arlington, Va.: What are your top three tips for job seekers on salary talks?

Mark Anthony:

1) Creating a plan that lifts your value and best attributes.

2) Think about what questions you can ask the employer to have them explain what will give them the most value and impact to the bottom line.

3) How can you specifically express and PROVE that you can solve that problem for them.

D.C.: Is it true that if you appear too confident, you could derail your negotiations? Similarly, I've heard that you should dress down or hide your car in the parking.

Mark Anthony: I would not agree with that. Cocky and confident are two different things. If you are creating tremendous value for the employer then you deserve the higher wage. Salary should be based on productivity not your personal problems, needs or situations. Give value get paid more, is how the employer usually sees it.

South Riding, Va.: With the current state of the economy and more people falling off the corporate ladders than climbing up it, can people still negotiate their salary? Is this a good time to look for a new job and expect to be able to get a promotion and a raise. I would think that the competition for jobs is strong and that there will be someone willing to work for less.

Mark Anthony: I would agree competition is strong and getting stronger. For many people it may not be the time to change positions, if you are going to change positions you need to be clear that you have abundant value and skill that stands apart from the competition. A more prudent approach would be to look and solidify a new position prior to resignation.

Washington, D.C.: Good morning. How, if at all, should you tailor your negotiation strategy if you are a woman, negotiating with a woman?

Mark Anthony: I don't think you do need to change your style. You need to be focused on how you can develop GENUINE rapport with your interviewer. Woman to woman may create more commonalities both in lifestyle and professional challenges that you excelled in overcoming. That creates evidence of your capabilities therefore possibly giving you an added advantage over the man.

D.C.: I'm looking for a job with some work-life balance and flexible working schedule. I know this will involved a pay cut, but I want to make it as small of a pay cut as possible. How do I deal with being asked in interviews for my current salary?

Mark Anthony: Your current salary is easily proven therefore you should be direct on what it is rather than not being truthful. Salary is a form of evidence to the value you provide. Hiring a top paid employee could be perceived by the new employer as getting a great catch at a awesome value. Your current hire salary could easily be a reason why they'd want to make a fast offer before someone else steals you away. Lastly the work- life balance justifies your reason for the pay cut rather than undermining your value.

Fairfax: A lot of potential employers these days are requiring that you include your current salary in your cover letter. Some even say that your application will not be considered if you don't include it. If you're offered the job, then what kind of leverage to do you have in the salary negotiation process once you've laid your cards on the table like that?

Mark Anthony: Assuming you are looking for more money-- the issue ultimately is can you provide the resources and assets that justify a large pay increase. If you think more about the employer's needs rather than your own you will present more value therefore attaining your objective of a larger pay increase.

Washington, D.C.: Thanks for taking my question. How feasible is it to sizably negotiate your salary upwards once you are already in a job in the nonprofit world (without changing your job), given the financial constraints of nonprofits?

Mark Anthony: It is very feasible to negotiate your salary upwards although a non-profit pays less than a corporate position. the number one mistake that women make when looking for more money is thinking they need it because of the economy, their own expenses or lifestyle wants. That mindset is all about you-- currently there are many women who would just like to have your position at the current pay. If they provide the same value as you the employer might as well give it to the lower priced person. HOWEVER if you provide more value and show how you solve more of the employer's problems then they have an important reason to pay you more. You must justify your value and all too often people fail to do that.

Bethesda, Md.: I was offered a salary that was higher than the range I was told the position typically pays. I thought about trying to negotiate, but I was scared that the offer would be rejected and I'd be out of luck since I had already quit my other job. And frankly I don't know how to negotiate and was afraid to try when I accepted that salary. I know now that I shortchanged myself by not trying to negotiate, and have put myself in a lower salary bracket because of it. How could I have approached that situation better?

Mark Anthony: In a negotiation knowledge is power. If you truly got a wage or salary that is higher than the industry norm then you got a great deal. If they paid more than their range but well below the industry for that position, you got yourself a poor deal, possibly-- Therefore in future negotiations having documented facts and presenting those facts can push the range higher. All things being equal we prefer the job that pays more, but flexibility, benefits, child-care, flexible hours etc. might be worth more that the difference in pay, so you need to weigh all that out in deciding how good a deal you received. Many women find the perks and flexibility very valuable.

Chevy Chase, Md. : Hi, can I discuss salary over the phone? Some people say it is a bad idea -- does body language have anything to do with negotiation?

Mark Anthony: Body language is a very important factor in any negotiation or communication. Words may only communicate seven percent of the actual message, tonality communicates another 38 percent. More than half of a person's true communication can often be seen through their actual body language so it is advantageous to be able to read the person face to face.

Washington, D.C.: I was aware of the salary disparities between men and women, but I'm shocked at the differences between men and women in the actual salary negotiation process. To what do you attribute this? Mark Anthony: Men are typically raised to compete. They are comfortable pushing each other and maybe "sparring" with each other and they compete verbally and physically and they don't take it as personally when in a confrontational situation. Many men I have worked with actually find confrontation fun. Although women are being much more socialized to compete they are often although not always less confrontational. the strength that often makes them better communicators and everyone wins deal makers sometimes can be a liability if they are afraid to push/confront asking for what they want and deserve.

Atlanta, Ga.: What if you work for a company that sees and acknowledges your value, but adamantly refuses to give you any salary increase? I know I am making far less than I should but my employer is constantly mentioning how bad the industry (auto) is right now, doom and gloom. The thing is, I was supposed to get a raise more than three months ago.

Mark Anthony: Is your employer speaking fact or fiction? If your industry has lots of lay offs even more cut backs and is shrinking then you may be lucky to have a position. Your employer is concerned about the economy and profits. What can you do to solve that problem? If you can solve the employer's problem by adding more to the bottom line then you are more valuable and can justify the pay increase. Once again this is an issue of you wanting more but what are you providing to justify getting more? Clearly before asking for an increase, show what you do to provide value and what you can additionally add and then you have a position of strength.

"Basically women were focused on everybody winning and men were focusing on a competition.": I'm female, and the only time I was really successful in negotiating a salary was when I practiced the conversation out loud with my husband. He was very helpful in getting me to state my expectations clearly and firmly and not to babble during the process. I really believe that saying the numbers out loud to yourself works because then they don't sound strange in your mouth- and I got the salary I wanted.

Mark Anthony: Sixty five percent of a negotiation success is based on your planning. By practicing what you wanted to say and thinking it through in advance you did more actual prep work than most people. That served you and your family well. Good job! As a reminder to everyone, when negotiating you really must write out the value that you currently give, write out the additional value you can create and write out the problems for the employer that you can solve. Practice with a friend or a significant other the conversation that gets the employer to talk about each of these items as well. Enjoy a conversation discussing how valuable you are. Lastly, recognize you have a lot to be proud of and confident about. If you believe it so will they.

Alexandria: Just a comment from someone who recently was laid off from a high-paying position in the private sector but recently joined a non-profit. The non-profit couldn't come anywhere close to my previous salary so I asked for other benefits to compensate e.g. flexible work schedule, extra week of paid leave. On a related note, after I went in for the interview, the organization implemented a hiring freeze so each position was being re-evaluated. I clearly was not in a position to negotiate a higher salary.

Mark Anthony: It takes two people to negotiate, sometimes the other party is not in a position to do anything differently and therefore there is no give and take.

Springfield, Va.: A hiring manager here: What are some signs that a prospective employee is bluffing on salary?

Mark Anthony: With that -- what we want to look at -- first of all you may want to have them document their current level of salary. You also may need to ask very specific questions that require specific answers rather than the broad bragging answers that many employees give. Basically make them prove their value and their plan to deliver that value. Also you can offer less and watch for changes in their body language. You should give people a value payment for that value, not just try to get a bargain or they are likely to leave anyway. Ultimately salary negotiation ends on a point where everybody feels it is a god deal, not just one side.

Mark Anthony: It was a pleasure helping each of you and remember a good negotiation is where everybody wins. Learn how the other side will benefit, help them get that benefit and you will deserve to get your benefit as well. When you are shopping you are very happy to spend money if you are getting value, whether that's a COACH bag a FENDI bag or one from TARGET, You make your purchase decisions based on the value you receive or perceive. In a negotiation both parties are looking for a value that justifies price. Thank you.

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