How to Ask for What You Want and Get it

How to have your cake and eat it too.

How to have your cake and eat it too.

Making the Ask: A Lesson in Salary Negotiation

Asking for a raise can be an intimidating process - one that takes guts, preparation, research, and support. Looking back on my career, I often stumbled; I had the guts but lacked the other 3 strategies. What I learned was invaluable.

I was working long hours as an HR business partner in tech, supporting a global team. I had a lot of responsibility, and my foot was always on the gas. My fuel tank was my grit.

One day I got a call from the holy grail of tech companies. I wasn’t interested in a new job but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to join the free lunch movement. Early on I asked the recruiter to share the approved salary budget for the role, and I quickly learned I was underpaid in my current position. The new role was in a comparable industry, smaller in scope and had no global responsibility. AND they were offering a salary of at least 30% more. I was shocked! Was I really THAT underpaid?! Was I selling myself short?

How I learned to ask for what I want.


The experience catapulted me into action.
I’d considered asking for a raise in the past, but my negotiation tool belt was empty. How would I be perceived if I asked for more - would my boss think I was being greedy? I hoped my company would see how hard I was working, do the right thing, and take care of me. I didn't realize that working hard and keeping my head down was not enough. It was up to me to self-advocate. 
With little preparation and no coaching, I marched into my boss’s office and made an emotional request: “I’ve been contacted by an outside company, and I realize I’m being underpaid here. I’d like you to consider giving me a raise.” It was the same approached I’d seen men use and be successful.
It did not go well.

Clearly caught off guard, my boss said he would consider it. But weeks went by and I heard nothing. When I raised it again, he told me he was angry at me for asking him. His answer was no. 

He had an emotional response because I had an emotional ask; I acted impulsively out of frustration. I also made a few other key mistakes. I hedged my bets on one data point, based on a company that pays at the very high end of the market range. I didn’t factor in my boss (audience), that I was a woman (unconscious bias) or prepare examples of my contribution (case building). I failed to build a holistic case to prove that I was underpaid.  
Asking for a raise without preparation is like bungee jumping at work; it’s risky.

My ask was a humbling experience, but it was a lesson I’m grateful for. While the company ultimately lost me, it set me on the path to close the gender wage gap and inspire women to advocate for themselves at work for raises, promotions, and seats at the table.  And that is exactly the work I do today.  

Are you ready to learn how to ask for what you want and get it?

Contact Ashley

Five Ways to Nix Fear and Negotiate your Next Raise

I often ask people what holds them back from asking for a raise, and the response I receive over and over again is:  fear.  So what is it about fear that makes us pump the breaks?  When it comes to negotiating for a raise, fear can paralyze us from taking the appropriate action to successfully ask for what we want because we are afraid of the perceived negative consequences

We worry our bosses won’t agree with our reasons for asking.  We fear we are not worth more. We fear retaliation.  We worry the answer will be “no.”  And maybe we even fear our colleagues will no longer like us.  How terrifying!

There are many fears associated with asking for a fair and competitive salary, and negotiating can be intimidating, but the positive results of successfully negotiating a salary increase far outweigh the potential downside.  More money in your pocket tips the scales in your favor, and you are worth it.

Check out the five steps that will set you on the path to conquering your fear of negotiation and landing your bigger paycheck.

1.      Do your homework

Preparation reduces anxiety and is a key ingredient to any successful endeavor.  Hop online to research what the market is paying for your role and experience.  A quick search of your current job title in your city will give you a basic understanding of what companies are paying in your area.  Define your target salary range using the market data from sources like (employer reported) and (employee reported). 

Your target salary range is defined based on what you earn today, what the market is paying, and your desired total compensation package. It’s essential to understand the current market rates in order to determine your worth.  Once you are armed with the facts, your boss can’t argue numbers.  

2.      Ask for a meeting

Create a deadline for yourself by getting a date on the calendar with your manager.  A hard deadline will help to transition your focus from fear to preparation.  Getting a date on the calendar catapults you into action mode and moves you away from the paralysis of fear.

Ask your manager for a 30 minute meeting to discuss your career development.  By definition, to negotiate is to try to reach an agreement or compromise by discussion with others.  Use this framework to view your meeting as a discussion rather than a conflict or fight. 

Remember; avoid asking for a meeting during busy season, end of year, quarter close, or any other high stress time.  Be flexible and willing to adjust your time table to meet the needs of the business to give yourself the highest possibility of success.

3.      Practice, practice, practice

Your boss has the ability to approve your salary increase, and you have what your boss needs:  your unique skills, experience, a killer personality, and demonstrated high performance.

Prepare a pitch that clearly articulates your recent accomplishments, your unique and valuable skills, your dedication to the company, and your understanding of the marketplace.   You should aim to keep your pitch less than five minutes. 

Once you are comfortable with your reasoning, practice your pitch out loud. Don’t let the first time you say the words “I’d like a raise” be in front of your boss. 

Practice it in the shower, in the mirror, use your phone and record yourself, but most importantly, practice it with a friend or your partner.  Role-play and ask your “boss” to respond to your pitch with three of the most likely answers:  yes, no, and maybe later.  Prepare your response to all three of the potential answers and deliver your pitch exactly as you practice it when the big day arrives.  

4.      Breathe

Take a moment to yourself before heading into the meeting and inhale and exhale 3 slow breaths to stabilize your heart rate.  Recite a positive affirmation to calm your nerves:  “I can do this” and “I am worth it” are powerful examples of affirmations.  Choose any phrase that energizes you and makes you feel strong.  Bring awareness to your body to allow yourself to regain the confidence needed to deliver on everything you’ve prepared for. You’ve got this! 

5.      Follow up

With all of your preparation, it’s very likely you nailed it and will be reaping the benefits soon.  However, if you don’t receive an initial “yes,” don’t accept “no” as a final answer.  In most cases, your manager will need time to process your request, talk to HR, and get approvals.  Acknowledge that you don’t expect an immediate answer and instead offer to schedule a follow-up meeting. 

Ask your manager when it would be appropriate to meet again to discuss your proposal - in 2 weeks or 2 months?  Schedule a second meeting during your first meeting, or immediately afterwards, to ensure you can raise the topic again.  Demonstrate persistence and understand you are setting the stage to continue the discussion about your career development.  

So, go ahead.  Allow yourself the opportunity to start earning more today.  Reduce your fears by preparing to ask for your next raise using the five steps outlined here.  As Wayne Gretzky so appropriately said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”