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Negotiating A Raise

I was going to write a post about all the different types of negotiations that you can have in the workplace and make a very ‘listy’ type post, but then I remembered that I hate those types of posts (even if they get more eyeballs). So, I decided to get specific and go through the types of negotiations you have in the workplace, but get deeper into each one. I was trying to avoid the doing another series, but this might turn into one.

Negotiating a raise is likely one of the most challenging and foreboding negotiations the average person will have to do. And even you as the seasoned negotiation professional may get a bit nervous about it. Negotiating with a supplier or procurement person is one thing, but negotiating with your boss is another things entirely, right?

The same principles apply to negotiating internally as they do externally. That’s what great about negotiating. The prep work that you have to do, the research, the role playing,….all of that doesn’t change. But what does change, as with any negotiation are the types of words that you use, how you frame your need, what you ask for and how you bounce back from a potential “no”.

The first thing you need to remember when you’re making a request for a raise is to actually request a raise! I know it sounds weird, but most people psych themselves out and never actually follow through with their request. They always think: “Now’s not the right time.”, “I’ll never get it.”, “It’s a down market”, “I’m lucky to have a job.”, “There’s a wage freeze on.”, “I’m too busy.” Thinking like this hurts you. Not only because you never ask, but because you never exercise your courage. Courage is like a muscle, if you never exercise it, it never grows. Face your fear and ask! When you request a raise, you’re raising your perceived value in the eyes of the person making the decision to give you a raise. So even if you don’t get the raise, your value goes up!

Secondly, use the right words! You are not a meek church mouse that kinda was thinking, maybe, if only, gosh golly gee it sure would be wonderful if you got a raise. Be confident! Even if you’re not,….fake it! I’m not kidding. The words and body language you use are powerful. How you use your words and what words you use will have a huge impact on whether you’re successful. So use the right ones! Stay away from phrases like, “I would like”, “It would be nice if”, “Would it be possible if”, “I deserve”. Replace those phrases with “I need” or “I require”. And position your ask as a future based request. Think about it from the company’s perspective. The only reason they have to pay you more is so that you deliver more value (it’s an investment decision). Past tense negotiations don’t work. So if you say something like, “I’ve don all this amazing work, so I deserve…” you’ve already failed. You’ve got ZERO leverage. You’ve already done the work, why should they pay you more? Talk instead about what you can do to add value to the organization, and what your future plans are for your position. And position the request as an investment decision, not an expense. By the company investing in you, you will be able to deliver increased value.

Thirdly, determine what else you want. What’s important to you? Have you established what you actually want to get out of this negotiation? Is it only for the money? Or are there other things you could accept if money didn’t come your way? Start thinking about negotiating happiness into your job. What does happiness look like for you? Will it make you happy to:

  • Have more time off?
  • Get more flexible medical benefits?
  • Get flex days that you can use instead of sick days so you can legitimately play hookie?
  • Get a sabbatical?
  • Get more time off for maternity leave?
  • Get parental leave?
  • Get the ability to arrive late or leave early so you can pick your kids up from school?
  • ​Get your education paid for

Lastly, bounce back from the “no” if you get one. Likely the worst thing that will happen after you request a raise is you’ll get a “no”. Hearing “no” is tough, I get it. It deflates your confidence and sometimes sends you into a tailspin. After you hear “no” in a raise negotiation you may feel like you’re not valued, that the company doesn’t care, that you screwed up, that you’re on the chopping block. But all of those things are in your head! None of those words were likely said. “No” doesn’t really mean “no”, it just means, “not right now”. There’s no harm in asking again a few months down the line. Bounce back and give it another shot in a few months. As with any sale, it may take a few requests to get through to the person you’re selling to.