How do I negotiate salaries without my employees feeling stiffed?

Salary negotiations can be anxiety-filled on both sides -- but they shouldn’t be, says Thomas Neubauer, a managing partner with The Gap Partnership, a firm that provides negotiation training and consulting services. It’s all a matter of communication.

Listen to your employee’s case.

A productive negotiation is based on mutual trust and respect, Neubauer says, so don’t think this is a conversation you have to win. “You want to work with them, ideally, for many years,” he says, “so you don’t want to upset them by being too competitive.”

Get into your employee’s head.

Understand what’s most important to the employee -- because it may not be the base salary. More vacation days? A more flexible schedule? “There are different things that could create satisfaction,” Neubauer says. “That’s what you want to achieve.”

Ask for something in return.

If you’re giving something, you ought to get something -- like your new employee agreeing to take on additional responsibilities. When you’re both happy, put everything into a written agreement.