Sell me this pen.
Not really, but if you’ve ever attended a seminar on negotiation, this phrase might be familiar. So you can sell a pen, but can you sell YOU?
Whether it’s a raise, more responsibility, learning opportunities, or just a little time off, asking for what you want in the workplace can be one of the most difficult tasks on your to-do list.
Asking tough questions, standing up for yourself, and being your own advocate is crucial for your long-term success, happiness, and satisfaction at work. If you’re postponing your “ask” because you’re not sure how to start, here are a few tips to help you get to yes.
Be Specific. Being as clear as possible is key when voicing a request. It’s up to you to do everything you can to rule out miscommunication or confusion around workplace requests. If you lay all the details out on the table, you’re more likely to get the answer you’re looking for.
Know Your Value. If you don’t truly believe you deserve that promotion, no one else will. Remind yourself of all of your accomplishments, and run through a list of all of your positive assets. A little confidence boost can change the tone of any workplace conversation, and will allow you to voice your request in an assertive and poised manner. Be your own cheerleader. Remember, it’s not bragging if it’s a fact!
Body Language. Your body language doesn’t just play a leading role in how others perceive you, it can actually change the way that you think and feel about yourself. Crossing your arms, looking at the ground, and hunching your shoulders will not only make you appear less assertive when you’re asking for what you want, but it can also MAKE you feel less confident. Look your boss straight in the eye, sit up straight, keep your arms open and relaxed, and use your body language to your advantage.
Write it Down. When you’re prepping for a conversation that might be difficult to have (asking for a salary increase, voicing a concern or putting yourself up for a promotion), preparation is key. Try writing down your thoughts—nothing fancy, just bullet points. Putting your thoughts on paper helps you organize them, and will allow you to prepare for the conversation ahead.
Don’t Hate, Appreciate. This one is super important. Being gracious and asking for what you want in a calm, confident, and POSITIVE tone can make or break the outcome. Most of the time, it’s not necessarily what you say, but how you say it. When asking for that well-deserved raise, make sure to acknowledge how grateful you are for the job you have, the opportunities and the experience you’ve gained. Reassuring your boss/manager/CEO that you’re truly appreciative of what they’ve done for you will set the right tone and allow for a productive conversation.
Don’t Let “No” Bring You Down. Don’t let a “no”’ determine your self-worth, or take you off your desired path. Every single one of us will hear the word “no” more than once in our lifetime. It doesn’t mean that you should give up, or that you don’t deserve what you asked for. Think of “no” as an incentive to keep up the hard work and continue to challenge yourself. You’ll get there eventually. Remember that growth comes from situations where you don’t get what I want, and you have to figure out creative ways to make things work.
Most of these tips and tricks not only apply to asking for what you want in the workplace, but also in your personal life. The most meaningful lessons learned at work also translate to navigating negotiations in day-to-day exchanges, from convincing a landlord to send someone out to check the AC because it’s 100 degrees in my apartment to setting boundaries with a friend or neighbor.