There is a famous saying that goes, “Success in life is directly proportional to the number of awkward conversations you’re willing to have”. This is particularly true in salary negotiations. Scheduling a meeting with your boss to discuss an increased paycheck has the potential to be very uncomfortable, yet also hugely rewarding. Remember that gaining a large salary increase in your 20’s or 30’s has the potential to earn you more than $100,000 of income over your working career. Here are my top tips for how to negotiate a raise better than 99% of your workmates:
1) Know Your Worth
One of the principles of the psychology of persuasion is that of social proof. What this essentially means is that employers, like people, have an inbuilt tendency to follow the crowd. In order to leverage this to your advantage during salary negotiations, come to the table prepared with figures and statistics for what similar firms are paying people with your job title and description. You can look up this information on websites such as salary.com, payscale.com, or search comparative jobs on LinkedIn Premium to find benchmark salaries. If you can show your employer what others in your industry are paying, it places social pressure on your employer to follow suit.
2) Take Charge & Use Assertive Language
If you want to be successful in gaining a salary increase you have to act like you are in control. So be the first to open the conversation. Prepare a strong opening statement, and then follow this up with your points. Sitting down and allowing your employer to start speaking first allows them to set the tone of the meeting and puts you in a passive, back seat position from the very beginning, whereas taking initiative demonstrates confidence. If you don’t convey that you believe in yourself, you will experience great difficulty getting your employer to see reason to up your pay. For example, you might open the negotiation by saying, “Thank you for the opportunity to discuss my performance and compensation. I’m going to take some time to outline the value I provide, and what fair compensation for the job I do looks like to me, and then we can discuss this further.”
3) Use Their Exact Words
Don’t just present a monologue though. Ask questions to engage with your employer. For example, you could ask what the employer’s compensation philosophy is. Most employers will likely say something positive. They will tell you that they like to pay their staff fairly and in line with market rates. When you get to the stage of presenting a figure to your boss for what you are worth, you can then give your employer’s answers right back to them. Psychology research shows that people like to be thought of as consistent in speech, actions and values. Therefore, if your employer has just acknowledged what an asset you are to the company and that they like to pay their staff well, when you give these exact words back to them, they will have a hard time denying your request to be compensated appropriately.
4) Enhance Your Likeability
Studies show that we are more likely to meet the requests of others whom we perceive to be likeable, therefore you can improve your chances of getting a significant raise by increasing your likeability. There are several ways to do this. Firstly, we tend to like people who are similar to us. So focus on finding similarities between you and your boss. Perhaps you grew up in the same area, or have a shared interest in a particular sports team. During the interview you can also mirror your boss’ body language. Physical appearance has also been shown to enhance likeability; subconsciously we perceive well-dressed people as more kind, honest and intelligent. So dress well, get a good haircut, and smile lots.
5) Talk Value First and Price Second
For a company to want to pay you more, you have to be able to bring some benefit to them. They want to see that you can co-operate with them and that you want to help them achieve their goals. Talk about your achievements and past performance record, but then move on to discussing your future potential. Share your ideas for improvement; how the firm could save money or reach a new customer base, etc. You want to lead your boss to a moment of realisation of how much you can contribute to the company’s successful future before you discuss any money issues. That way when you do get around to discussing money your boss will be desperate to retain you and slightly worried that you might leave if they don’t meet your needs. When you do get around to naming a price, start high. Say, “This is what I think I’m worth. Now I’m aware that your budget might not be able to extend this far but I’m hoping that you can help close the gap between the figure I’m suggesting and my current salary.”
6) Use Silence
When you’re in the middle of negotiating your salary, use silence effectively. It is a fact that most people find silence very intimidating and uncomfortable. Therefore, if your boss makes you an offer, let silence hang in the air for a while before saying anything. Your silence could be perceived as being dissatisfaction and could trigger a better offer.
7) Consider Non-Salary Options
Finally, remember to take a holistic approach to negotiating. Discuss more than just money. What other benefits would you like to have to improve your working life? More sick or vacation days? A better training allowance? A promotion? Sometimes your company’s budget won’t allow as much wiggle room as you would like to increase your salary dramatically but there may be other perks and opportunities you can pick up. Try and offer something to your employer at this stage of the negotiation too. A key principle of influence and persuasion is that of reciprocity. If you extend an olive branch to your employer and give them something they want they will be more likely to meet your requests. Perhaps you could offer to work overtime during a busy few months. Be prepared to give up something that isn’t too important to you in order to gain more effective bargaining power for something that is of greater significance to you.
Negotiating well is a key life and career skill. Take the time to practice these skills in other areas of your life so you can gain confidence when talking salary. It might be a nerve-wracking conversation to have with your boss, but asking for and getting what you deserve is important, and communicates to your employer that you are not expendable.
by Michelle Bunt