So, what should you do if you’re reluctant to negotiate? Get creative and find a method of asking that feels more comfortable for you.
1. Negotiate by email.
Afraid you’ll hem and haw your way out of a salary bump in person? If you’re negotiating a job offer, asking by email could be an easier alternative.
“It could also be easier for the employer, because they don’t have to respond right away,” she says.
If you decide to negotiate by email, keep a few guidelines in mind:
- Manners count. Start by thanking the hiring manager for the offer.
- Emphasize your enthusiasm for the position, and be as specific as possible about why you’re excited to work there. You want to make it clear that you’re genuinely enthused about the role.
- Keep your request in line with the market. PayScale’s Salary Survey can help you set a target salary that’s appropriate for the role, so that you can negotiate confidently.
2. Write a script.
If you’re asking for a raise at a job you’ve had a long time, however, you’re probably going to have to do it in person. It’ll seem weird if you email your boss of five years from two cubicles away to ask for more money.
In fact, there’s a protocol for asking for a raise at a job you’ve had for a while. In short:
- Ask for a meeting to discuss compensation. Don’t sandbag your boss at your regular one-on-one or in the break room with a request for more cash.
- Come with a target in mind, but also a smaller number that would make you happy, as well. (Both based on data, of course, and not on what your coworker says she makes, etc.)
- It’s also a good idea to have some other perks in mind that might make up for a raise, if a pay increase isn’t in the budget. Would working from home give you more work-life balance? Would free classes or seminars help you build your skills and thus climb to the next rung in the corporate ladder over time? Negotiations are about concessions, so don’t just come with one thing on your list.
When you figure out what you want, write yourself a script. Practice your main points until you feel comfortable speaking conversationally, so you won’t seem rehearsed or rigid in your request. (Not sure where to start? These salary negotiation scripts can help.)
3. Justify your request.
This advice is especially useful for women who are negotiating salary, because studies show that women pay a higher social cost than men when they ask for more. However, regardless of your gender, if you’re a reluctant negotiator you might try one of these tricks, courtesy of Sheryl Sandberg (h/t: CareerBliss):
- “My manager suggested I talk with you about my compensation.” (Points to a more senior person in the org chart. This obviously only works if you do, in fact, have a manager in your corner.)
- “My understanding is that jobs that involve this level of responsibility are compensated at this range.” (Use market data to back up your claim.)
- Use communal pronouns: “We had a great year” vs. “I had a great year.” (Again, this is especially important for women, who are still looked at as being selfish when they ask for themselves instead of thinking of themselves as part of a group.)
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