Getting ready to ask for a raise can be as nerve-wracking as applying for a new job. It doesn't help that, in such a competitive world, many of us tend to undercut ourselves. We speak in ways that make us sound less confident and sure of ourselves when we could be selling our experience and skills better. It's harder as women because, according to research, we tend to worry more about grabbing too much attention, being disliked or outshining someone else.
The confidence to rightfully take up space often grows with time and experience, but that's no reason to lose out on early opportunities, right? So here's some good news: with a few changes to the words and phrases you use, you can advocate for yourself better. In projecting confidence (even if you don't feel it at the moment), you can successfully make your case for a raise — and get it, too!
When you're asking for a raise, it's obvious that you've done some thinking about the gap between your work and your compensation. Don't let it go to waste! Highlighting your research into the industry, expected perks, current market trends and similarly situated employees let you back numbers with facts. Your employers will see that you aren't pulling numbers out of a hat or trying to push your luck.
If you show confidence in yourself, it's likely to rub off on the person on the other side of the desk. But that doesn't happen if you end up using phrases like “I think" or “I'm guessing" because they sound weaker than you'd like them to. Instead, using “I believe” shows that your request is coming from a place of determination.
Here's an extra tip: avoid the word “just.” It takes the tone of a sentence from confident to apologetic as if you're saying “it's just one little thing.” A raise is a huge milestone, so treat it that way.
Add whatever verb you see fit — the point is that you need to actively claim your achievements. Using passive voice might be safer if you're working in a collaborative team, but showing ownership over things done is a great way to drive home your value and support your arguments. To avoid taking credit for work you haven't done, you can always say "in collaboration with" or a variant of that phrase. This naturally shows that you're ready to give where credit is due, too.
If some part of the raise conversation doesn't sit right with you, bring it up. Using this nicely-worded phrase is helpful because it doesn't shoot the other person down, but successfully asserts your boundaries. It also shows that a lot of thinking has gone into your request, which is always a good thing.
If the proposed amount is lesser than what you're expecting, don't hesitate to open the floor up for negotiation. Using this phrase invites continued conversation with your employer, without shutting their offer down outright.
Along the same lines is the phrase, “Can I think about this for a few days?” If you need time to think about an offer, ask for that time. Don't feel obliged to say yes to any amount because you initiated the conversation! Ask your employer how long they're willing to hold out for — and try to get back to them with your answer within that time frame.
While the above phrases make you sound confident instantly, these soften the impact (and not in a good way):
“Needless to say…”
“I'm not sure, but…”
“No worries if not!”
“... know what I mean?”
Go into this conversation knowing you deserve a raise. You'll communicate what you need with a confidence that'll add weight to your words and leave no one in doubt about what you want.
This article was written by a Fairygodboss Contributor.
Sindhu Shivaprasad heads all things content strategy, ideation and execution for Pause. In the long term, she hopes to write an anthology of essays on topics that connect people through time and space. She’s taking the first step through her newsletter, Kindred Spirits. You can reach out to her on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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