Bringing up the subject of money at work can feel intimidating to most people, but it's important that you don't let this stand in the way of earning the salary you deserve. As with any meeting, if you don’t prepare what you are going to say, you are less likely to get the outcome you want. Have a clear objective in mind, then build your case as to why you deserve to achieve that objective. Your body language and vocal delivery can also be used to work in your favour. This blog is filled with tips on how to ask for a raise... and get it!
Know your secret sauce
3 Core Values
Time when you were most proud of yourself
Use this quadrant to find your secret sauce. The most important part is to get clear on your values - once you know them, think about how they link up to the company’s values... “I Value X, the company values X - we both run on the same engine therefore in me you have a loyal employee.”
Define the positives
Define the positives of your role, the company and what you can bring to it in the future. Expressing gratitude and enthusiasm for your current role is a good way to preface asking for a raise. Let them know that you feel like a valued team member, and you love being a part of an amazing company.
Do your research
This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s important to build your argument before you go into a salary raise conversation. What is your reasoning behind why you think you deserve this raise? Share examples of specific projects you have worked on, and how they have positively impacted the business. Think about it from their perspective - did your accomplishments increase revenue? Did you provide particularly outstanding customer service? Did you receive positive feedback from other team members? Do your salary research too - what are competitors offering? By building a strong case, you’re not only demonstrating how you’ve positively influenced the company so far, but also your future potential. Focus on their interests as well as your own - tell them about future goals and projects you’re excited about, and that you’re invested in helping the company grow and increase revenue.
Plan for no
If you don't get the salary raise you were hoping for, don’t leave with an “ok, never mind.” Think about how you will negotiate in this case. What could they give you, so that you still get what you deserve - this might be in the form of upskilling, training or other company perks. Or, what can you work on over the next few months, to show how much you deserve a future salary increase? Don’t leave the room without knowing what the next steps are - can you put a date in the diary further down the line for the next salary raise discussion?
Practice makes perfect
You might perfect what you want to say with a fine tooth comb, but if you don’t practise how you’re going to say it, you’re likely to have less conviction. So practise saying it out loud and record yourself, then play it back, noticing where you should change the pace and tone to have more impact. If possible, ask a friend to practise with you, where they play the part of a difficult boss who won’t hand over the pay rise without a fight. By acting out a role play, you’ll have more confidence for the real thing, and you’ll have time to work out how you’ll respond to their tricky responses, rather than thinking on the spot.
Lead with a positive
Rather than starting with a somewhat threatening “I’ve done my research and I feel I’m worthy of a salary raise”, it’s much better to launch with something positive: “I love it here, I see a future for myself here. I see a path where I can multiply on the increase in wage”. It's important to create fertile soil and be kind. This will then flow nicely into the argument you want to present. Don’t back them into a corner - if you do this, their brain will be more likely to start thinking about how they could get by without you, and you immediately become dispensable to them. Remember that you’re asking for this salary raise because you really want it - you’re taking a risk and being vulnerable. What you don't want to do is accuse anyone, be unreasonable or make such a narrow gap that makes your boss feel like either they do it your way or they have to let you go.
Value for value
As an employee, you need to be able to fully step into the role and feel valued. If you are feeling that there is an imbalance, it could be time to ask for a salary raise. Try to bring in the company’s values to your argument - “as you know, at this company we are value for value. At the moment I’m feeling like there’s an imbalance”. As soon as you know your value, be confident in it. One of the rules of nonviolent communication is that you should be an advocate of your own and the other person’s values. It’s about being able to tell yourself “I am worth X, I bring X to the table”. On the same note, you want to make it clear that you also understand the situation of the company, and this is why you are proposing X amount of money. In doing this, you're showing that you care about the company and have considered all aspects of your proposal.
Many of us find ourselves apologising when we’re not in the wrong - it’s a way of keeping the situation calm and not wanting to appear confrontational. In situations such as salary appraisals though, there is certainly no need to apologise! Going in with “I’m sorry to bring this up but…” or “Sorry if this is a bit of an awkward topic but…” isn’t going to do you or your boss any favours. Remember that although you might be feeling nervous, it’s a perfectly normal conversation to have. Your boss likely deals with salaries all the time, and the topic of a raise isn’t going to feel nearly as uncomfortable for them as it feels for you. What you’re asking for is a statement of how much you value yourself. Showing self-respect will demonstrate to your employer that you truly believe you deserve this.
It’s important that you make your request with clarity. Don’t hide it among a bunch of other words and apologies and reasons so that your boss has no idea what you’re asking for. When you know what you want, use your words to carve out the quickest route possible, rather than beating around the bush. A common habit lots of people have when talking to colleagues or managers, is to downplay what they’re saying by preceding a perfectly reasonable request with a disclaimer. For example, “this might sound like a lot of money but…” - this puts the idea into their head that you’re asking for a lot and may be willing to negotiate a lower figure. When we use disclaimers, our listeners tend to fixate on them rather than the words that follow.
3. Nonverbal communication
It’s important that your nonverbal communication is consistent with your words and your message i.e. if you are saying “I believe I am of value”, you don’t want your body to be saying “I’m tiny and scared and vulnerable”! Arrange your body in a position that's open, confident and relaxed.
On the day, it’s a good idea to warm up before you go in. Stand tall and notice the feeling of your feet grounded on the floor. Make sure that your shoulders aren’t up by your ears - stroke them back and stroke the gap between your head and shoulders. Allow a feeling of openness - feel the difference between sitting up straight versus hunching your shoulders. Look in the mirror and do some power poses - tell yourself you’ve got this and you’re going to come out of the meeting feeling amazing. To make sure your words come out with power and intention, warm up your face and voice too - here are some vocal warmup exercises to try.
4. Vocal delivery
Often we rely on the pitch and tone of our voice because we don’t want to appear confrontational with a direct question. We say a statement, with an air of ‘I’m not sure about this,’ that invites others to speak about the topic. Upspeak is a communication technique that works well in normal life and can help tease people out of their shell, but it can come across as insecure in situations such as salary reviews. When you’re stating your expectations, make sure your voice comes down at the end of your point, to make it clear that you’re sure of yourself and not prepared to negotiate.
It’s totally fine and very normal to feel nervous, and the way to manage that is to not try and hide the nervousness. To calm your nerves, use your breath to support you. Take deep inward breaths and long outbreaths. If you find that you’re speeding through or taking lots of short breaths to try and get the words out, stop and take a breath. It's your body, your lungs - you have the right to take control. Go in with a sense of self love and self respect, rather than letting your voice undermine you. Make sure each thought is being delivered to the intended destination.
So there you have it - we hope this advice helps you navigate a successful salary raise conversation. These tips can be used for any kind of conversation that you're nervous about - ultimately, when a subject is tricky to broach, confidence, clarity and conviction are the three Cs to remember. Let's change the status quo and remove salary from the list of taboo subjects to talk about!
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