Brokering peace in the Middle East seems like a walk in the park compared with approaching your boss about a raise. In the best of times, even the most enlightened employers may shy away from paying you more, and when things are tight, you may be hesitant to ask. Writing for "Forbes," Kristi Hedges points out that many people are taught it's rude to talk about money, but negotiating is a career skill for any job. Before you go to your employer with your request for a salary increase, arm yourself with knowledge of the effective ways to state your case.
Basing a raise request in terms of work you've already done closes the barn door after the horse has gotten out. Hedges points out that your future potential is more important to your boss. Your past performance and hard work are important, of course, but your manager knows this and he's already paying you for it. Focus on your plans for the future and what you can bring that increases your value to the company. By all means, use past successes as examples, and if your job or qualifications have changed since your last review, Erin Burt, writing for the Kiplinger personal finance site, suggests these are fair game. Use them as an indicator of your enhanced value for the company, she suggests.
The Power of No
It may seem counterintuitive to open a negotiation with "no," but Jim Camp, negotiation coach and author, makes a strong case for inviting your boss to say no. Allowing that you're comfortable with no for an answer removes the "you versus me" undertone that makes discussing raises uncomfortable. You're acknowledging that you can proceed rationally and respect that your boss can as well. When your supervisor feels free to decline your request from the onset, it improves your chances of your request being heard impartially.
Camp suggests that suppressing your emotional connection to an outcome that's out of your control gives you power. If in your mind, you don't need the raise, negotiating for it remains decision-based, rather than fear-based. After all, it's easier to risk with Monopoly money. When you can't avoid emotions, Brenda Goodman, writing about negotiating in Psychology Today, suggests focusing on any positive thoughts you can associate with the situation. If you feel fear of failure creeping in, for example, counter it with the thought that you're gaining experience in the nuances of negotiating.
"Negotiations are advanced with your ears, not your mouth," says Elizabeth Ball, human resources manager from Ann Arbor, Michigan. "Most people listen only enough to respond, not enough to understand." Author of "Everything's Negotiable," Bobby Covic is widely quoted about the negotiator's truism that whoever talks the most during a negotiation loses. Asking questions of your boss reveals her concerns, needs and objectives, which may let you align your raise request with her position. Remaining silent can also control the pace of the negotiation. Resist the temptation to commit or reveal too soon.