How To Negotiate A Raise

If you haven’t already read my article, “The Art of Negotiation – And Why You Should Learn It”, find it and read it because it outlines some basic principles about dealing with others. If you can’t find it, ‘mail’ me, and I’ll send you a copy of it. You need to know these basic principles in order to have a good understanding of the art. I’m going to reiterate a few concepts in order to get you caught up on the process.

The essence of a good negotiation is not a ‘zero sum’ one, in which one person gets everything and the other person essentially gets nothing. Those types of negotiations will always bounce back and bite you in the butt when you’re least expecting it. You’re either setting yourself up for hard feelings in the other person, who may want to strike back at you for being selfish, or a re-negotiation later. The best negotiations are those in which both parties get a least the majority of what they wanted in the first place, and will be satisfied with the contract that you’ve both made.
Some negotiations are obvious. When you buy a new house or car, you’re going to negotiate for the best price before you sign a contract. Very few people go to a realtor or car dealership and just agree to the first price with which they’re presented, and you’re probably not an exception to the norm; but you’re negotiating every day with others – your boss and co-workers, your loved ones, people in other cars on the highway, and a plethora of other people whose needs may be in conflict with yours…. You just may not realize it, but it’s something that you can already do.

Negotiation is the simple act of working out an agreement. When you and a friend are trying to determine which movie to watch, you’re negotiating. When you and your significant other are deciding which household chores each of you will do, you’re negotiating. We all have wants and needs, and in order to get what we want or need, we have to work out ‘deals’ with others in order to get them. When put in those terms, negotiation doesn’t seem all that difficult, does it?

Imagine a negotiation as a large crescent. When it begins, you’re at one end with everything that you want, and the other person is at the other end with everything that he wants. The object is to end up somewhere in the middle, where you both get most of what you want. Think of it as a strange game of poker, in which the cards are wants and needs, with agreement as the object of the game. He’ll have some cards that you want, you’ll have some cards that he wants, and you’ll both have some cards that you’re both willing to throw away. Don’t be so anxious to get to the middle that you throw your show your hand away immediately because if you do, you won’t get what you want.

Negotiating a raise or a promotion can be a unnerving prospect because you’re not holding the ‘trump’ card, which has ‘yes’ or ‘no’ written all over it. You, like most people, may not value yourself and the work that you do, or have done, as being as valuable as it actually is… and this can psychologically put you in a ‘one-down’ position from the get-go. You need to convince yourself that you deserve that raise or promotion, and go to the table with that attitude.
When negotiating a raise or a promotion, you HAVE to do your homework. You need to know what your organization wants and needs, how much it can afford to pay you, if there’s room for a pay increase or advancement, and what it thinks of you as an employee. Gather together all of your employee reviews, document everything you’ve done that’s been a contribution to the company, determine how long you’ve been working there, the last time that you got a promotion or a raise and how much it was, the actual increased cost of living expenses in your area, the cost of fuel to go back and forth to work, and, if you can get the information, find out when someone working at your level of employment got a raise and how much it was, as well.

Gather as many cards to put in your hand as possible, and put it all in writing, so that you won’t forget anything in case you get flustered. If you’re working for a large organization, you can get a trial subscription to Hoover’s (, and obtain information on the company. This will include its Dun & Bradstreet rating, the organizational structure, and how the company is doing in its given industry. If you want a promotion, find out which ones are available, and where they are. If none are available, invent one that the company might need. After getting to know the cards that your opponent will have, and will try to use against you try to think of ways to neutralize the negative ones, and how you can constructively impact the positive ones.

When you’re ready to go to your boss, armed with as much information as you possibly can, remember that while he may be sympathetic to the fact that you’re buying a new house or losing the one you have, that your old car broke down, or that your kids need college tuition, those are NOT reasons for him to increase your salary, so don’t even bother mentioning them. His job is to maintain the profitability of the organization, and he thinks that giving you a raise will impact that profitability in a negative way.

Take a few deep breaths and try to calm down before you go in there. You’re going to be nervous, but try to exude confidence. Begin by pointing out how long you’ve been with the company, how long it’s been since you got a raise, ask for one (more than you really want), and then shut up. Let him blather on about how the company can’t afford it until he gets tired of talking... but listen carefully to what he's saying because he might contradict himself or disclose information that you didn't know, which you can use as ammunition. Start laying your cards on the table. Get him to agree that you’ve been a good employee and an asset to the company. Use the information that you’ve gathered about the company, the positive information about you, and the increased cost of living and of working there. Tell him how you’ve made a positive contribution to the organization, and what you will do in the future to mitigate the raise that he would give you, e.g., how your efforts will either continue to maintain profitability or to increase it. Don’t use the ‘how What’s-his-Name’ recently got a raise for doing the same job unless it’s absolutely necessary because you’ll run the risk of ticking him off. Stay positive, and keep reiterating how contributive you are.

Many bosses will ‘get back to you’ on this issue because they have supervisors who are the decision-makers, but many times your boss will have the power to do it himself. If he has supervisors who make the decision, don’t be a pest… just ask him on an occasional (regular) basis what he’s heard about the issue. Many times you’ll get a raise because: a) The company doesn’t want to lose you, b) You really DO deserve a raise, or c) You’re a good worker, but you’re being a pain in the neck and they just want to make you shut up about it.

You may not get a raise. It’s no secret that the world economy stinks right now, but you’ll rarely get what you don’t ask for. Publisher’s Clearing House, knocking on your door with a million dollars in hand, is an exception, but a highly unlikely probability. If you don’t get a raise, try to get some other concession. Be creative, or just ask, “What CAN you do for me?”. Getting something… even a job title change or more job responsibilities… is better than getting nothing at all, and you’ll feel better about your efforts.

Remember… You can always approach him at a later date, after he’s had time to think about it, and ask again after a sufficient amount of time has passed. Remember that “No” doesn’t necessarily mean “Never”.

If you’re stuck in a dead-end job, if you really hate the company or the work that you do, looking for another job is probably a good idea. Regardless of what you’re doing now, or how old you are may be relevant to some employers, but not to all of them. Staying where you are now for at least 2 years is somewhat important because prospective employers don’t like to see ‘job hopping’ on a resume…. But it’s your life, and wasting it isn’t a good idea. Don’t look for a new job while you’re at work, and, for Pete’s sake, don’t quit the one you already have before you find a new one unless you have considerable enough savings to cover your living expenses. Finding a new job can take a long time, and you may have to move in order to get one. Moving isn’t the traumatic event that it’s cracked up to be. I’ve done it many times for many different reasons, and you can survive it.

Once you’ve found a new job that you actually like, the negotiation process will begin all over again, but will take a slightly different form, as you’ll have to convince your prospective employer why you’re the best person that he can hire, and negotiate the best salary and benefits possible.

Negotiation can sometimes be a tricky prospect, but I encourage you to practice, practice, practice with the people you already know in everyday situations. After a while, it’ll become second nature to you.
fishsweeper fishsweeper
56-60, F
2 Responses Aug 14, 2012

You're not a flop... You're a wonderful person. STOP THAT! XOXOXO - Fish

Excellent instruction. Ive never heard such good advice on this topic. Infact ive never heard any ihstruction on it. It just goes to show why ive been an absolute flop all my life, yet having so many abilities.