Asking for a Raise? Remember Everything is Negotiable

Business woman shaking hands
© Elenathewise – Fotolia.com

Women have a much harder time standing up for themselves than men.  We hear derogatory comments related to standing up for ourselves.  We seem to have a natural propensity to help and support others, that wonderful quality of nurturing.  If the idea of negotiating troubles you, pretend you are someone else, someone with the power to see you as a separate and worthy person, someone who knows every action, thought, and contribution that represents you.  Place yourself in the position of someone you hired to represent you during negotiations.  What would this other person say in support of your request for an increase in salary, or a promotion? Write these ideas down, knowing that these ideas are true, and represent your value as a responsible and talented employee.

Men seem to have a natural talent for negotiation.  If you watch little boys playing, they challenge, react, and position themselves to win.  This play activity from childhood assists them in feeling comfortable negotiating.
To strengthen your negotiation skills, consider how many options you have for practicing negotiation skills.  Every transaction can be negotiated.  When you check into a hotel, negotiate for the best price.  When you make a purchase, negotiate for a better price.  Look for opportunities in your life to practice your negotiation skills.

Now let’s talk about negotiating when asking for a raise.

First tip: Research supports a 10-15% increase with little negotiation necessary.  Start from the viewpoint that you will walk away with at least a 10-15% increase in pay over  the stated offer, or where your pay is at this moment.  That’s the ground floor.  Anything above this point will result from your negotiation skills.
Focus on the viewpoint that everyone wins.  Both you and your boss should walk away from the negotiation feeling good about the negotiation.  You have expertise and experience to offer, a history with the company (or industry), a known history of contributions to the company (or industry).  Perhaps you completed new training or education, completed a complicated project, perhaps the company even realizes that you could walk away, and they would lose a valuable employee.  From this perspective, ask what the company has in mind for your salary.  Starting with their salary number gives you the advantage of knowing your starting point for negotiation, if an offer is not proposed; use the 10-15% percent increase, as your starting point.

Second tip: Be true to yourself.  Take few minutes to be by yourself before the meeting.  Lift your arms up into a V for victory pose.  Look straight ahead and say I want this salary increase; my efforts are worthy of this increase; I have worked hard to get to this point in my life.  This action might sound odd.  However, research supports that raising your arms into the air increases your feelings of self-worth, confidence, and happiness.

Third tip: Be honest.  Remember you are creating and building a long-term relationship with yourself and the person on the other side of the desk. How do you display your honesty?  Lean in; listen with an eye to hearing not only the words, but also the mannerisms of the other person.  If the person leans back, shift your body to move slightly backwards too.  This tracking or mimicking body language presents the two of you in harmony, creating a feeling of rapport, a subtle move that places the two of you on the same side of the negotiation.
Know what you want and honestly state what you want, and why.  What does the industry pay for this position?  Does your company follow industry averages, pay above averages, below averages?  Know this information before sitting down for the negotiations.  Consider your request from the company’s point of view.  Can the company afford your request?  Is your request reasonable?  Answering these questions supports your understanding of the situation and gives you a strong, knowledgeable response if your initial request is countered, or rejected.

Everything is negotiable.  Perhaps you are closing in on an agreeable number, but not exactly the number you had in mind.  Consider other possible tradeoffs, an extra week of vacation?  An assistant to help with your workload?  An expense account?  A company vehicle?  Membership fees to a club?  Education or training reimbursements?  What other items might improve your quality of work life, advance your career, or add value to you as a productive employee? If you don’t make the request, no one knows that you want more.

One last parting thought.  What happens if you don’t state what you want?  You feel taken advantage of, your attitude suffers, you feel stressed and unhappy.  Your employer and colleagues wonder what happened to the high energy, successful person that seems to have vanished.  A downward spiral kicks in, when all you need to do is recognize the time is right for you to set the appointment to negotiate your salary.

By Karli Peterson, PH.D. Kaplan University

Dr. Karli Peterson is an adjunct professor with Kaplan University.
PhD Organization Management with a Specialization in Leadership

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