How to Negotiate A Higher Wage
November 27, 2023
Perhaps the most salient point is the verb “negotiate,” which is not a synonym for “ask,” and a skillset on its own.

It won’t surprise anyone that it’s a tender moment for almost everyone when they approach a superior to discuss wage growth; studies show that while negotiations for higher salary tend to be successful when people are first offered a job, few people do it after the initial move. 

Taking an aggressive stance when it comes to salary negotiation isn’t strong; it’s a tactical mistake and it could cost you, and you shouldn’t confuse it with being self-assertive

Lots of things hold people back—insecurity, fear of somehow messing up and losing the job, and more—but the good news is, according to, 82 percent of senior managers have given raises to employees who expressed concerns, and that there’s expert advice to rely on how to proceed. One caveat, though: If the backdrop to your negotiation is your discovery, either through scuttlebutt or transparency laws, that colleagues in similar positions are making more money, it’s best to leave your indignation and self-righteousness by the door. Similarly, threatening to leave or quit is a non-starter unless you are prepared to have your boss take you up on it. Taking an aggressive stance when it comes to salary negotiation isn’t strong; it’s a tactical mistake and it could cost you, and you shouldn’t confuse it with being self-assertive 

Among the tips Roberta Magnuson offers up on are a few you might not think of, including being aware of the business climate your particular business is operating in and considering that in relationship to your initiation of discussions. For example, if you know that a competing business has just shut its doors or laid off people, this probably isn’t an optimal time for asking for more compensation. This doesn’t mean, of course, that you can’t revisit the subject; it’s a question of using timing to come up with a successful result. 

Strategies for Negotiation 

There’s widespread agreement that preparing yourself for this discussion is essential and that taking an off-the-cuff approach isn’t either smart or productive. Keep mind that the more you know about the company’s financial health and its attitude towards its employees—does it tend to reward longevity or loyalty or is it always ready to reward new talent first?—will stand you in good stead. 

If this is your first rodeo with this company, do your homework and find out as much as you can about the review process and about raises in general. Do they tend to be cost-of-living based? Are they always performance-based?

  1. Choosing the number: You will have to decide which of these you are comfortable with. For example, some people do better bringing up a hard-and-fast number which they believe reflects their contribution to the company and they are prepared to both justify and defend it. Others work best with a “let’s meet in the middle approach” and start high but are prepared to go much lower so that everyone “wins.” It goes without saying that you should be thinking about your boss’ personality and how he/she handles negotiations and discussions generally before you decide on an approach. 
  2. Looking beyond money: Most experts recommend that you include other potential perquisites that will enhance your position, even though they may not necessarily be monetary such as a change in job title, an expansion of duties and responsibilities with the promise of an increase in the future, additional days off or more flexibility, and the like. Depending on where you work, these decisions may not be part of your superior’s purview and he/she may well have to consult with others on whether these asks are feasible. In The Harvard Business Review, executive coach Carol Hagh suggests that you bring up your commitment as part of the negotiation; she points out that when you ask the company to do something for you, it’s up to you to point out what you’ll bring to the party in return. That can include underscoring how your work has aided or helped the team, for example, or reiterating recent successes you’ve been able to achieve. 
  3. What to do if the answer is “no”: Ask for a detailed explanation, first and foremost, and then raise the question of whether or not the salary issue can be revisited and when. In a piece in The Harvard Business Review, Shana Hocking notes that there’s never a perfect time to negotiate a raise but that the fearing of hearing “no” shouldn’t be one of the roadblocks.


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