To accept or not accept a counter offer? You are at this crossroad where you don’t know whether or not to accept a counter offer, decline or submit one. What happens? Anxiety builds, crippling doubt may creep in at the worst times, and your palms may start to get sweaty. Hey! It happens to the best in this vital game. The rule of the game is to remember one thing, “Just don’t blow it.”

What most HR Managers will tell you is that negotiating a salary or compensation package is the kind of stress you can manage. However, it’s like an intricate dance learned over time. Seeing who will cave in first. You take in one step forward, two steps to the side, spin then come together to hopefully, to the figure you had in mind.

So, what are the rules of the game? What must you learn before you make a fool out of yourself?

1. Remember to be firm and persuasive
Here is something they don’t teach you in school. If you intend to negotiate for a better package, make it clear that you’re serious about working for this employer. That being said, you have to remember at all times that it’s not all about stating your desire for a higher pay.

Explain precisely why it’s justified. The reasons you deserve more money than others they may have hired. If you have no justification for a demand, it may be unwise to make it.”

2. Consider both sides.
The employer may like you. They may think you deserve everything you want. But they still may not give into your counter offer.

Why? Because they may have certain ironclad constraints, such as salary caps, that no amount of negotiation can loosen. Your job is to figure out where they’re flexible and where they’re not.

If, for example, you’re talking to a large company that’s hiring 20 similar people at the same time, it probably can’t give you a higher salary than everyone else. But it may be flexible on start dates, vacation time, and signing bonuses. On the other hand, if you’re negotiating with a smaller company that has never hired someone in your role, there may be room to adjust the initial salary offer or job title but not other things.

The better you understand the constraints around the counter offer, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to propose options that solve both sides’ problems.

3. Avoid giving ultimatums.
It’s either this or that. Sometimes we do so mistakenly, we’re just trying to show strength, or we’re frustrated, and it comes off the wrong way. Your counterpart may do the same. The best way to handle a situation where you are at a receiving end of an ultimatum is to simply ignore it, because at some point the person who gave it might realize that it could rush the deal and will want to take it back.

Best thing to do at that point without losing face when someone says ‘We’ll never do this,’ is to not dwell on it. Instead, you might say, “I can see how that might be difficult, given where we are today.”