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BY Pat Katepoo

How to Ask for a Pay Raise Without Fear

Woman worrying about pay raise

Photo credit: Creative Commons

TAGS:Compensation, Career advice, Negotiating

How to Foil Your Pay Raise Fears

If you’re afraid to ask for a pay raise, you certainly aren’t alone. That’s a finding from my Women’s Pay Raise Survey.

Look at These Lists of Fears!

The Women's Pay Raise Survey has this open-ended item: “In one sentence, state your biggest fear about asking for the raise you deserve.” As you skim the small sample of responses below, notice how many women reveal a concern about how they’ll be perceived for asking. Some used the words greedy, pushy, ungrateful. Many are afraid of rejection or even getting fired!


  • That my manager will think I’m being greedy and ungrateful.
  • I don’t know how much to ask for and worry that it will mean I have to work 24/7 to “deserve it.”
  • Being denied. That would feel so embarrassing.
  • Limited knowledge about how much to ask for.
  • Scared they will be offended and that I don’t have enough supporting evidence.
  • Fear of losing my job and creating a negative rapport with my manager.
  • Not getting it!
  • The unpleasantness of thinking about the meeting.
  • Being turned down.

More Fears

  • What if I get fired?
  • I worry that asking will have negative repercussions.
  • Feeling like I have to justify it and that they won’t agree with my justification.
  • I’m worried that there will be negative consequences to asking for a pay raise.
  • Being denied and then continue doing all my manager asks without compensation.
  • Being perceived as pushy, greedy, not a team player or ungrateful.
  • They will say no.
  • Being seen as greedy or pushy compared to other employees.
  • I was not successful the last time, but truthfully I was not prepared. Nonetheless, I am afraid of being rejected again.
  • I have never gotten the raise I asked for; that always makes me feel greedy and undeserving.
  • Asking for too much.

…And More Fears

  • That I won’t be seen as brave, intelligent or worthy.
  • I’m afraid that asking for a raise will make it seem as though I’m only interested in the money and not my actual work.
  • Afraid I’m not asking for enough.
  • That they will look to get rid of me.
  • Fear that I’ll ask for more than what’s considered reasonable.
  • Starting the awkward conversation and knowing how much I want to be paid.
  • I am most afraid of not knowing how much to ask for and not having the right language to use to ask for it.

Do you share similar worries when it comes to asking for a raise? If so, I encourage you to take a longer-term perspective of getting a raise. Let me explain.

Realize the Source of Your Fears

Some of these fears reflect women’s concern about the relationship involved. In fact, fear of disrupting relationships keeps women from negotiating. You know that saying, “It’s business. It’s not personal.” Well, it’s usually men who are saying it! With women, everything IS personal. It’s all about the relationship. So...

They go along to get along. They don’t want to rock the boat. They don’t ask.

And for a lot of women, a strong need for approval keeps them from asking for something they want. Or they have a harsh inner critic that says you can’t ask or you shouldn’t ask.

Sound familiar? These are the kinds of challenges women face as they think about asking for a raise. And some of them are rooted or reinforced in the short-term view of asking for a raise as an isolated event.

Take the Long-Term View

In contrast, if you take the long-term view, if you demonstrate and communicate your value all year round in a way that’s not pushy, then there’s no reason to think you’ll be perceived as pushy at the time of your Performance Review.

Why? Because it’s not a part of your personality the rest of the year. If you’re building solid work relationships, trust, and social capital at the office, you’re building value there, too. Those assets don’t melt away at the door when you step into your Performance Review meeting.

My point is, if your year-round patterns of behavior, attitudes and speech at work are not high-maintenance, not mercenary, and not aggressive, there’s no reason to think you’ll be perceived that way at your Performance Review. Does that make sense?


Pat Katepoo is the founder of Pay Raise Prep School for Women where you can get ready to ask for a raise with confidence. Request your free Pay Raise Starter Kit to find out how to fix your pay gap. This article was originally published in the Pay Raise Prep School Library and is republished with permission.


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