It's Time to Ask for More Money You couldn’t have picked a better time to ask for more money. According to a recent survey by human resources firm Buck Consultants, 76 percent of businesses that imposed salary restrictions during the last 18 months have now lifted their freezes. But that doesn’t mean everybody is going to automatically get a boost. If you really want one, you need to be the most cunning deviant in your office. Asking for a raise is like chess, except the loser doesn’t earn enough to pay a mortgage. Here are a few suggestions. Illustrations by Brown Bird Design
Spread Flattering Gossip About Yourself Before you set foot in your boss’s office, he or she has to know you’re indispensable. You can accomplish this by exploiting the office grapevine, says ghostwriter Jane Genova. Before your meeting, have a colleague plant a complimentary rumor about you—perhaps a rival is courting you? Or maybe you just donated a kidney. Genova suggests finding someone “credible, well-liked, discreet”—and easy to buy off.
Don’t Dress Like a Moron Your clothes should not speak louder than your words. “Avoid anything with an animal print,” says Diane Gottsman, owner of the Protocol School of Texas. And make sure you won’t be mistaken for Jimmy Buffett or an extra on The Office. “If it has ruffles, square toes, chunky soles, or a mustard color, think again.”
Pick Your Icebreaker Wisely Michael Henby, author of Fantasy Kick, suggests recalling a controversial trade from your office’s fantasy football season. The memory might put your boss at ease and make him smile. Laughter is key, says Gary Rudoren, co-author of Comedy By the Numbers, but don’t overdo it. No chicken costumes; no
Mel Gibson jokes, please.
Chart Your Value Career coach Jeff Garton, who has worked in HR at Kraft Foods, among other companies, says pitches should focus on numbers. “Put a dollarized value on your contributions,” he says. “Explain what you’re doing more of since your last increase.” You should also provide an analysis that demonstrates how you’re delivering more than what it costs to keep you. But, Garton warns, don’t bring up salaries of colleagues or rivals. It’s tacky.
Don’t Smell Like Snooki Employees should be seen before being smelled. Business etiquette coach Barbara Pachter believes a dab or two of a fragrance is more than enough. (Body spray is discouraged, and Drakkar Noir is simply out of the question.) You may think your signature scent is subtle, but Pachter warns you could just be desensitized. “If you wear perfume every day,” she says, “you may not even smell it anymore.”
It’s All About Timing Choosing the wrong day, or even the wrong time of day, can be disastrous. “Right before your boss’s annual board meeting may be a bad time,” says Daniel Shapiro, the director of the Harvard International Negotiation Program. There are no hard and fast rules, Shapiro says, except to know your boss’s personality. Try a time when you would normally pitch a new idea.
Go For the Sob Story Persuasion expert Michael Lee believes getting a raise can be as simple as changing the
argument: Make it seem like failing to do so
may present a moral dilemma. Lee suggests
telling your boss that “if you’re not able to
get the raise, your wife will leave you.” But pick your crisis wisely. A dead pet or great aunt won’t cut it. Remember, if you channel your boss’s value system, you can exploit it!
Think Like a Hostage Negotiator Sam Farina, founder of the New York Association
of Hostage Negotiators, says the trick to any negotiation is to passively diffuse someone’s heightened emotional level. First and foremost, you must listen—“It’s an important part of relating to an aggressive or hostile boss.” Listening helps you identify the “underlying tendencies for his stubbornness.” Once he or she thinks you have their interests in mind, Farina suggests, it’s time
to begin making demands.