Monday night I spoke to a group of women at a live event in San Francisco.

When I asked, “How many of you have negotiated your salary?” about 90% raised their hands. That’s significant. The national average varies, depending on the survey source, but the averages run about 46% for men/34% for women. (see an example HERE or HERE of the numbers collected)

And yet several women asked me, “How do I negotiate without feeling greedy?” 

I hear this all the time, so if you’re feeling that, “I’m so lucky to have this job, how can I ask for more?” or “I’m too nervous to ask, what if I’m called greedy or my boss says no?” you are not alone.

There’s so much anxiety in this conversation!

Asking doesn’t mean you’ll GET what you asked for, but most people want to know how to continue the conversation with their boss, especially if you get a NO.

Here are some tips to make your conversation easier and more collaborative:

1. Start the conversation early, as early as after 6 months in a new job.

The conversation is NOT, “I want to make more money!”

It IS, “I like working here and have been able to contribute in these ways….I’d like to collaborate with you about my ongoing professional development so that I can be a high performer here and advance my career. Are you open to having those conversations with me?”

I spoke with a woman at our live event who said she waited too long to talk to her boss about it and he’d already submitted his budget for the next fiscal year. If you have a collaborative conversation early, you and your boss will be aligned so you won’t miss that important cut-off date.

2. Don’t make it tedious for your boss!

If you go in with a “tell me what to do” attitude, your boss will start to avoid you in the halls. She’s busy and stressed and trying to propel her goals forward in the company, too. Instead, talk to other people in the company so you have a sense of what else is going on and can make suggestions about your own career.

When you talk to your boss, include both a WIIFT (What’s In It For Them, your boss, the other person) and a WIIFM (What’s In It For Me, for YOU, the employee in this situation) so it becomes a truly collaborative conversation.

For example, you might say, “I was talking to Charlie in Product X department and she said they are focusing on a new feature. I was thinking that a project like that would be a good way to bring our departments together (this is your WIIFT) and would be an opportunity for me to continue my professional growth here (this is your WIIFM).” This accomplishes a few things: you are seen as a go-getter, someone who is interested in advancing the interests and success of the company AND as someone who is paying attention to your career.

Bosses (usually!) love this combination.

3. Think of this as a collaboration.

This is probably the most important and fundamental shift you can make. As suggested in #2 above, approach your conversations with your boss as a collaboration.

I get so many questions about strategies like, “Should I play hard ball? Should I get another offer and force them to make a choice about me?” to which I always respond….it depends! This is an art, not a science and there is no right answer. It depends on your relationship with your boss and how much you’re being paid and if you really ARE a high performer, and so many factors!

My approach is always that if you CAN have a collaborative conversation with your boss, take that route. It’s typically easier to sustain when you foster a “let’s do this together” approach and leaves you both feeling more connected as humans.

If you can, wrap your salary conversation into a larger collaboration about your role, your career, your desires to succeed and make your company more successful!

The bottom line 
Approaching your relationship with your boss is an ongoing conversation as you strive to move to the next level. It’s a collaboration to keep your performance high, to keep you motivated and striving for more. And you, like every high performer, deserve to make more money in exchange for the successes you bring to your company.

It’s a fair trade, not one you should feel guilt over.

This is the 3rd and final live talk that I’m doing with the Declare community. You are formally invited if you’re in San Francisco on 11/13! Click HERE to register.

We’re talking about Communication styles: communicate more effectively with people you don’t like and people who are not like you.

Effective communication is the backbone of a healthy workplace culture and the key to increasing innovation, team effectiveness, quality, and profitability. Your own clear communication helps you and your team members reduce errors, rework, misunderstandings and hurt feelings. With more effective ways of talking to one another, you can authentically connect with everyone in your life, bringing you more joy and fulfillment.

I hope to see you there!


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