Negotiating a pay rise? 10 less-usual pieces of expert advice to help you nail it

  • Tim Neary | July 30, 2019
Negotiate your next pay rise successfully

Tired of all the 'tried and tested' pay rise tips that leave you no better off? Check out these 10 less-than-usual gems from a wide range of experts, to help you negotiate you next salary increase successfully.

1. Start with a shot (of espresso) 

You’re inclined to be more resolute when the business-end negotiations kick off when you drink coffee, a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology has found.

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According to Executive Style, it (the study) said that coffee will make you more resilient to other people’s powers of persuasion, and holding your position firm means a good salary increase outcome is more likely. 

2. Be a bit unpredictable

A study from Columbia Business School found that negotiators who are emotionally inconsistent get greater concessions, because it unsettles the other party and they tend to feel less in control. 

The school’s professor Adam Galinsky told Executive Style that the default for salary negotiations is a relatively level, less emotional approach. 

“But injecting unpredictability can create an advantage,” he added.

3. Hold back  

HR services company Randstad says timing is all important and there are three opportunities that should never be missed: on your anniversary, at the end of the financial year or just before the next budget sign-off.

It also says that before you ask for a pay rise, you should consider how much you have achieved in your role and show evidence of the achievements – especially when your role has expanded. 

Then deliver your request in a business-like manner.

“Don’t let your emotions drive your behaviour,” Randstad recommends, “it just gets messy and more than likely, you will not end up with the outcome you were hoping for.”

4. Make it personal 

In a Kellogg and Stanford negotiation experiment, college students who shared their personal details ended up getting “significantly” better results than those who kept things dry and detached. 

Wharton professor Adam Grant told Executive Style: “Opening up a bit sends a signal that you're trustworthy, and makes it more likely that they'll reciprocate.”

5. Get competitive 

In most salary negotiations, you're trying to get something the other party doesn't want to give you. That makes it a competition, and viewing it that way leads to better results, according to research from George Mason and Temple university professors Michelle Marks and Crystal Harold.

“People who use a competitive strategy, by identifying their goals and being willing to push for them, end up with significantly higher salaries than those who are accommodative or compromising,” the professors told Executive Style. 

6. Leave it 'til you believe it 

Kaplan Business School says that if you want to get a raise you first have to believe you deserve it.

“If you feel worthy of an increase, then you probably are,” it says.  

Kaplan says the next step is to set up a meeting with your boss, rather than bombard her or him at the first opportunity.

“Ask if you could arrange a time to set down and chat with them about your future at the company. It might take a week or more to actually have them sitting in front of you and listening so be patient.”

7. Be a little strategic  

Most people are familiar with the advice to start salary negotiations with a rounded high number and work from there, but new research from Columbia Business School suggests there might be a better way. 

According to Malia Mason, the author of the study, starting with a precise number makes a more powerful anchor in the negotiations. 

“This means replacing at least a few of the zeros in a round offer such as $100,000 and going for $104,500,” she told Executive Style.

“A precise number leads the other party to think that you've done research to arrive at a very particular number, which makes them think you're likely correct.”

8. Let them do all the talking 

While you clearly want to make an assertive case for your position, there's an advantage to getting your negotiating partner to talk about themselves.

According to Executive Style, Harvard neuroscientist Diana Tamir, the author of a recent study on the neurological effects of talking about yourself, said it can trigger the same sensations of pleasure as food or money.

9. Be a suck-up, but not a complete one 

Kaplan Business School says when you’re in there negotiating a pay rise, don’t be afraid to drop in how much you enjoy working for the company. 

But be subtle, it says. Don’t overdo it but make it known that you are a faithful employee.

“Add that that you hope to be with the company for many years to come,” says Kaplan. 

“Loyalty is important and it’s also valued, so don’t be shy in demonstrating yours.” 

10. Show your disappointment 

When getting an offer, Executive Style suggests that many people want to seem happy, to avoid looking too needy or disappointed. It says they might bring up a problem or two, but gloss over other issues that end up surfacing later on.

But according to Harvard professor Deepak Malhotra, this drives hiring managers nuts. Instead, he says the best strategy is to reveal all of your concerns at once, and note which ones are most important, so you can work through them.

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