should you ever negotiate salary through email?

A reader writes:

I am in the midst of negotiating salary for a new position. My sister recently completed a salary negotiation through email, and suggested I do the same. We are in slightly different situations, as she accepted an offer from an academic institution and my potential employer is a private sector company. What are your thoughts on negotiating through email? My initial response is don’t do it, and I will be negotiating through a phone call. I’d be interested in your opinion though!

While I can certainly see why email might feel more comfortable — it takes some of the awkwardness away that many people feel when they have to actually have a conversation about salary negotiation — I think that generally it will put you in a weak position.

Having a conversation — a real conversation over the phone, not a back and forth in writing — allows you to hear the other person’s tone, and where they pause, and how they react to what you say. It allows you to state what you want and then stop to force a response from them, right there in the moment. Email does none of that.

That said, some people certainly do negotiate salary over email, and there are probably some who do it perfectly effectively. But I think you’re sacrificing some opportunity there.

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