The once workplace tradition of the pay rise has rapidly decreased in popularity over the years - thanks to the recession.
But that doesn't mean broaching the subject of improving your salary is a no-go area with your boss.
In fact, Judi James, a leading body language expert, believes asking for a raise doesn't have to be a nerve-wracking exercise - providing you give off the right, positive signals.
As hordes of Brits return from their summer holidays this month - where they've inevitably spent time putting their goals into perspective from the comfort of their sunbeds - the prospect of heading back to work can seem a gloomy one.
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As where do you even begin to task that dreaded pay rise question? How can you get your boss to recognise your value and agree? And how do you make your expectations realistic?
Wanting to ask your boss for a pay rise? Then follow this top strategy - and tactics - to get what you deserve...
* A discussion about pay is an important negotiation and therefore spontaneity will always weaken your case. Strategic planning (and a bit of cunning) is what’s needed to ensure you have the best chance of achieving your goal.
* Always assess your worth as a product and an asset to the business. Objective thinking will help you see the strengths and weaknesses of your pitch. Why are you deserving of more money? How do you add value in your boss’s eyes? What will the business gain if they do pay you more?
* Avoid any obvious attempts to suck-up, like suddenly dressing smarter or acting more helpful than usual. This behaviour will ultimately annoy your boss when she/he discovers you were only after something.
* Although J.B.Y. (i.e. Just being yourself) might be dangerous if you’re normally a bad time-keeper or the office whinger. Be subtle and be strategic when you plan ways to make yourself visible doing the right thing in the right place at the right time.
* Sell your pitching points to yourself first. Too many people lose out in a negotiation because they decide to wing it rather than compiling a logical case that they have genuine belief in.
* Good negotiations involve finding common ground first, like a warring divorcing couple agreeing the welfare of the kids. What will you and your boss agree on? What objectives do you share?
* Be psychologically smart and tune in to the company’s core motivational values, plus (if they differ) the more personal values of your boss. If it’s all purely about profits your pitch must focus on value for money, but if it’s about client service or image you should keep this in mind when you structure your points.
* The more personal persuasion factors can also affect your outcome. Does your boss prefer heart-to-heart chats, or logical communications that involve, detail, proof and planning? Do they like humour and lively conversations or are they into competitive behaviours and power-posing? By mirroring their preferred work/communication style you will find it easier to sell your points, although go easy on the latter option as you might look like a threat to their status.
* Avoid arrogance. It’s not The Apprentice. Empty boasts about how great you are and what a superb asset to the business will only work if you have the facts and proof to back them up.
* Beware the negative offer. ‘I know I act like the office joker a lot of the time, but I do feel I would be good in a more responsible role’ or ‘I do have a bit of a bad track record in terms of time-keeping but if you paid me more money I promise to be punctual’ are unlikely to impress.
* Try to think of positive ways to trade though. Is there anything else they might gain from you in terms of training or value?
* Pick the right person to negotiate with. Avoid passing messages on via a third party or merely dropping hints to everyone that you’re not happy.
* Go in on a positive rather than a grumble. We are always more convincing when we state a case using positive points than we are when we just moan.
* Avoid listing all the personal reasons why you want that rise. In the current financial climate sob stories tend to be less effective than hard facts about corporate worth.
* Avoid offering ultimatums. Threatening to quit if you don’t get what you want might sound like a powerful persuader but your boss will be forced to put things into perspective in terms of the rest of the workforce, meaning you might be sacrificed to avoid the rest of the gang turning feral.
* Be assertive. Pick your time and place with care to assure you have their full attention. Look confident and comfortable with your request and avoid using body language or verbal signals that could suggest suppressed anger or resentment. Avoid anxiety give-aways like fiddling, foot-tapping or giggling. Use eye contact without staring and splay slightly by putting your elbows on the arms of your chair to signal confidence.
* Deliver your message in a concise, structured way. Ask for what you want and then list three or more reasons why you deserve to get it.
* Add their potential objections into your own pitch. Work out any reasons why they might say ‘no’ and then use the main ones yourself, as in: ‘I know there is currently a bar on pay rises but I do feel I am a special case because....’ This will show you have empathy and help avoid a straightforward argument.
* Use silences as a powerful tool. When we get nervous in a negotiation we often over-speak, sometimes even backing down verbally before the other person has spoken. Listen when they speak and allow a silence when you have finished speaking rather than rambling.
* Plan your exit, keeping two possible outcomes in mind. With luck you’ll be thanking them, but if you don’t get what you want do consider asking them when you should re-apply and what you might be doing in the mean time to help ensure success next time.
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