How to Steer the Conversation While Asking for a Raise

What to say, and when to say nothing at all

28 September 2016

The first time I renegotiated my salary, I was terrified. Did I really want to rock the boat? Could my request jeopardize my job? Would asking for more money make me look like a troublemaker?

Despite my worries, I pushed ahead and set up a meeting with my boss to discuss a raise. After the meeting was over, I realized my fears were totally unfounded. He agreed to review my request, and I subsequently received a large increase. Equally important, my boss and I became much more of a team. We developed a mutual understanding of priorities that needed to be met for our department to succeed.

It wasn’t a fluke—I have experienced similar results with every subsequent negotiation since then, in each role and organization.

A successful salary renegotiation always starts with these two points: knowing you are being paid much less than your market value, and being aware of the positive impact that your skills and accomplishments are having on the company. Armed with that information, salary renegotiation is simple, and it can enhance your relationship with your manager. I know this from being on both sides of the negotiating table.

In a previous blog post on initiating the conversation about a salary increase with your boss, I challenged readers to articulate the value they bring to their organization. In Part 2, let’s focus on how to manage the conversation after stating that you feel you are undercompensated.


A great way to request a raise or promotion is to first clearly elaborate on the impact you are currently making, such as boosting the company’s brand or helping the firm save money, as well as your desire to contribute even more to the organization. Then ask for the amount you want—phrased in a way that makes it clear the increase will enable you to not only be more motivated but to make an even greater impact. Your manager will either agree to look into your request or she’ll say she can’t offer you a raise at that time.

No matter what your manager responds with, say nothing. That can be hard to do, because the silence feels so awkward. But an amazing thing happens with silence: The gap is begging to be filled, and your manager will do so. She may come back with a willingness to meet you halfway, or with some form of justification for why the company cannot increase your salary—both of which can be helpful to you.

If it’s a justification for why the company can’t pay you more (for example, the salary budget is fixed and there is no money left) then that information is incredibly useful for the next step in the conversation: brainstorming other ways to address the issue, such as a performance bonus or additional vacation time. The conversation also might lead to a discussion about whether you are on the right path to a promotion and what you need to do to get there.

Does this process—including the silence bit—actually work? Yes. I’ve helped hundreds of people negotiate salary increases and other perks they never dreamed possible.

In Part 3 of this series, I’ll take you through the collaborative brainstorming process and give you specific questions to ask to make the salary negotiation process less intimidating and further enhance your relationship with your manager.

This article is part of a series on salary negotiation. A version of this article originally appeared on the author’s website; it has been published with permission.

Anthony Gold is a writer, speaker, and entrepreneur who recently helped found ROAR for Good, a company in Philadelphia developing smart safety jewelry that—at the touch of a button—can emit an alarm and send text messages with GPS information to emergency contacts if the wearer is in danger.

IEEE membership offers a wide range of benefits and opportunities for those who share a common interest in technology. If you are not already a member, consider joining IEEE and becoming part of a worldwide network of more than 400,000 students and professionals.

Learn More