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by Vault Careers | November 07, 2011


Asking for a raise can be tricky, but it becomes easier when workers remember that the main thing of interest to an employer is the value the employee brings to the company. By focusing on this and only this, the chances of success increase. When you veer off this track, you've lost the battle. Here are some discussions you should avoid when asking for a raise:

Don't discuss your costs of living.  Asking for a raise and discussing how much you and your family are struggling to make ends meet or how much money you need to pay for your mother's surgery is not a successful tactic. The employee should demonstrate that he understands that raises are given for merit rather than financial need. This holds true even if the manager and worker are on friendly terms - in this case, asking for a raise for personal reasons may put the manager in an uncomfortable position and is more likely to be perceived as manipulative. Maniupulation causes a strain on work relationships and that's exactly what this discussion is. Keep personal matters out of the conversation. 

Don't mention coworker salary.  Mentioning a coworker who earns more during the raise negotiation isn't likely to succeed either. It is actually the equivalent of complaining to your mother that your little sister got a bigger slice of pizza. It's almost childish in nature to involve other people who do not belong in the conversation. The manager is not responsible for explaining to a third person why someone else is paid what he is paid. Furthermore, making this comparison makes it appear as though the worker asking for a raise is certain that he is as productive and valuable as the coworker he's referencing. This may not necessarily be true - the coworker may handle other tasks or have other responsibilities that the worker asking for the raise is not aware of. You might end up bruising your ego going this route.   

Don't discuss the duration of your time with the company.  While raises are often linked to seniority, mentioning your time within a company as one of the main reasons why the employee is entitled to one is sure to backfire. As with personal expenses, it's important for workers to demonstrate that they acknowledge that they're evaluated on merit.

Don't threaten to quit. Managers already know that if a worker is unhappy, he will leave eventually. Voicing it explicitly only comes across as unprofessional. And if you never had any intention of leaving or can't find a new job right away, this tactic will only serve to make life difficult for you at work. First, you and your supervisor will begin to be uncomfortable around each other, causing a negative atmosophere for you and your co-workers.  In addition, your actions might even result in eventual termination if you fail to get yourself back in the good graces of those you threatened.  Don't talk your way out of a job. 

Don't refuse to take no for an answer.  The sure fire way of getting no as an answer is to say, "I refuse to take no for an answer." If after the worker has made his pitch and mentioned his recent accomplishments, the boss says no, asking again isn't likely to do the trick. What the worker can do at this point is ask his boss what he'd need to do to earn the raise. Then, if the worker does what was discussed, he'll have a stronger bargaining position next time he asks, and will more than likely get that raise.

--Published courtesy of Brafton (additional content written by Jon Minners,


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