Angling For A Raise Doesn't Have To Be Awkward — Here's How To Ask

Although the 2023 statistics on the gender pay gap are sobering, don't let them deter you from asking for a raise. For the record, white women today overall earn 84 cents on the dollar compared to men. Black women earn 67 cents for every dollar white men earn, and for Latinas and Native Americans, it's 57 cents on the dollar. All the more reason to gather your research, get up the nerve, and breathe deeply before you talk to your boss.


If the mere thought of asking for a raise weirds you out, one useful strategy comes from author Tanja Hester. She told the New York Times, "What encouraged me to negotiate at my old job was knowing that I was making it more normal for other women to ask." If making a bold or even a normal ask on behalf of women everywhere increases confidence in your request, then definitely plug into that collective mission as a calming technique. Be on the lookout for the clear signs that you're valued at work — this is what you'll be bringing into your meeting. 

How to ask for a raise

Timing your conversation is important. Rather than choosing random or unconsidered timing, schedule your meeting when your accomplishments are getting noticed, you've been promoted, or you've gotten a clear message that people don't want you to leave. Leverage web research tools beforehand. Research salaries at Glassdoor, Payscale, Salary, and The Salary Project to see what men are earning and what people at other companies receive for the same position, and use that information to support the pay raise you're requesting.


Be really direct with your boss about why you'd like to meet. Approach the meeting with the same neutrality you would when you discuss everyday issues. Sure, it's understandable that it might be nerve-wracking, but if you can remember that this is — to some extent — transactional, it might lower your stress levels.

Although speaking in a casual, unscripted way is best, creating a clear list beforehand of topics you intend to cover will help you speak fluently about each bullet point. Remind your boss of your accomplishments and the great feedback you've received from peers or clients, especially if you have it in writing. At the end, make sure to clearly ask for the raise. If you think your anxiety levels will sabotage your efforts, feel free to map out your request in writing, keeping it friendly and businesslike. If your request isn't granted, ask what you could do to make it happen. That shows initiative and will keep you top-of-mind.


The inner game of asking for a raise

Fear is the enemy — that's generally true in life, and here too. If you have a good-natured friend or partner, consider rehearsing with them to do a salary negotiation together. The vibe will be completely different, of course, but it can help to prep you. Go all out — show up with the blueprint of what you'll say memorized, have the facts handy about what your job is worth in the marketplace, bring evidence of praise and accomplishments, and make the ask. Run the scenario a few times, both a best-case and a worst-case scenario. Practice accepting a 'yes' with gratitude and a 'no' graciously.


If you've decided on a face-to-face meeting even though you suspect you'll be nervous, you might want to consider learning a calming breathwork technique. Ramp up a week before your appointment and practice it daily, including right before you have any regular business meetings or conversations. Then use it right before you go in. 

Even with all your prep, it's OK and totally normal to feel hesitant. Remember your worth, which is equal to that of any man doing your job. If you need a last-minute spark of inspiration, these 10 powerful people have plenty to say about not letting men stand in their way.