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How to ask for a pay rise or a promotion

So often I am asked for help around how to have difficult conversations and in particular, on asking for a pay rise or asking for a promotion.

Now I have a client who came to me, and they were feeling that they weren't giving value, it was a new job to them. They had come from running their own business into a whole new world of corpocracy. They weren't understanding the sort of acronyms, we're feeling that A they weren't able to participate fully and also B that they were out of their comfort zone. However, what they did know was that they wanted to be involved more, that they wanted to ask for promotion, that they wanted to accept more responsibility and they knew that they could give value at the same time.

Now this isn't the only person that's asked me this. I've often asked people, what is the most difficult thing that you find in communication? A lot of the answers are around having difficult conversations, and in particular, asking or negotiating for a pay rise or for a promotion. Perhaps you can relate to this and want to know how to ask. The key to this is the 4 Ps.

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Now communication on the whole is unconscious and by that, I mean, we often say or do things that we're not even thinking about. This is an unconscious behaviour, and one of the purposes of this blog is to make you more aware of what you're saying and what you're doing. It is to make you more conscious because we can't change what we don't know. If you are starting to become aware of how you're communicating, then consciousness is the key to change. As Aristotle I believe once said, certainly it comes way back from Socrates time, is that self-reflection is the key to self-attainment or words to that effect. I have probably completely ruined that quote, but it basically means, when you consciously become aware of your behaviour that's how you can change, and that's how you can achieve more.


Have a purpose for your conversation. Now often people say, or talk about negotiation, so I'm going to use negotiation and communication as the same thing, and I'm going to say that negotiation is a communication with purpose, so it's a conversation with a purpose. As communication is often an unconscious behaviour, we often don't have the purpose of it.

So, when you are asking for a pay rise or you're asking for a promotion or maybe even a new job, think about how you want to address the purpose right at the very beginning.

So, what is your outcome? What is your goal? What is your purpose of the conversation?

Take a few minutes to write that down.

So, if the purpose is, well actually I want more money.

Okay, so why do you want more money?

Well, I want more money because I want to buy a bigger house.

Okay great, but why do you want to buy a bigger house?

Well, I want a bigger house, because I've got three children and they're all crammed into one bedroom.

Perfect. So, what is it about having your three children in one bedroom that wants you to buy a bigger house?

Because they're not having a lifestyle that I would like to give them.

So now, as you go under those layers and ask yourself more questions about what your purpose is you're beginning to hit your real why, which is very interesting because when we do that in life in general and hit our real whys, they are the things that get us out of bed and get us doing the thing. They are the thing that will make you more likely to have the conversation rather than going, it’s not that important to me because it is important to you. When you realise and recognise why it's important to you, then that will help you and motivate you to drive you forward.

So, work out what you really want to achieve from the conversation, or from the pay rise because there will be a reason that's driving you. For many of us it will because we'd like to feel valued, but why do you want to feel valued? What is it about feeling valued that's important to you? We can then start to uncover more of our why and that makes it more powerful.


So, the second P is practice. That might sound a bit odd because often we don't practice our conversations, we just kind of go straight into them. We are emotionally driven, if you've listened to any of my podcasts before I have explained that we have the logical side of the brain and the emotional side of the brain. We are driven more emotionally than our logical side so often we must fight. I know I'm a very emotional person so my emotional brain kicks in really quickly therefore I have to be very consciously aware of what's happening. The more you practice, the more you become aware of who you are, what you are, what motivates you and what also causes you to emotionally react.

When you practice it allows you to get rid of any of those kinds of nerves. You can say it out loud, you might practice with a friend, a trusted friend who might give you some tips and pointers and actually go 'I'm not sure I would say it like that', because generally we come at life from our own perspective.

So let me just give you an example of that. Here are my glasses, I'm just taking my glasses off. Imagine I'm just waking up in the morning, and I put my glasses on. Imagine these lenses here are filled of my life experiences, my values, my beliefs, my opinions. You know those things that I'm really strong and opinionated about and what I believe to be true. As soon as I put my glasses on that's how I see the world. That is my vision that's my 2020 vision. So, imagine you put your glasses on and your glasses will give you a completely different view of the world than mine do, because your lenses will be made up of your experiences, your beliefs and your values, and they won't be the same as mime, which is great because it makes us all unique. What that does mean is that we will have different opinions. So, if I was your boss and you came to ask me for a raise, then I'd be like, well, what's in it for me? All I can see is that I'm handing over money to you, more money which is going to cost me national insurance and pension. Perhaps your boss is a lot more relaxed than I am but start to look at it from my perspective. This leads to the third P which is the other person's perspective, but we'll stick with practice for now.

Record yourself, practice walking into the room. Think of those people that you look to for advice, who maybe do have YouTube channels, have podcasts, who run the seminars and webinars that you go there and you listen to. They don't just go on there without practising what they're going to say, without having a format, without thinking about it, without being consciously present of what they're going to be doing and saying to you and the message that they want to crop get across.

Practice. In every negotiation I ever went on I practised in the car on the way there about how I was going to open up that conversation. Even during the break times where perhaps, I wasn't having conversations with them I would stop, I would talk to another person if they were there, I would talk to myself and jot down a few notes but then I would practice.

It's great if you know somebody who will just sit and listen to you and give you honest feedback. Remember with honest feedback that sometimes that can cause an emotional reaction because you might not want to hear what they have to say to you. Sit down, press a big pause button on the emotions and go okay so what is it exactly that this person is trying to tell me.


Right, the third one, and I'm going to suggest, women, in particular, we have this, and I say that because of the number of conversations that I've had with women, especially in higher CEO roles, managerial roles that they disempower themselves before they go into a conversation about wages, and about promotion. So, let me give you an example.

Are you quite a submissive person, are the person that says sorry all the time, that you will sit down and listen to somebody else and then go oh god yeah, I must be wrong and you're forever apologising for your own point of view? I'm one of these people, I have to put my hand up and say, actually, I am often that person, especially when I feel disempowered. One of the reasons for me personally that I might feel disempowered is because of fear of looking stupid, the fear of saying, 'Do I have the right to say this?', 'What gives me the right to come in and ask for a raise or ask for a promotion or ask for a job which I perceive to be a little bit out of my intellect?'

Let's just call it intellect. That's probably not the right word, but for the purpose of this presentation I'm going to call it intellect, and there has been a lot of research done on this especially around women's brains and men's brains and how that when men see a role that they have a couple of attributes for can go actually I can do this, this and this, or I don't think I can do that and that, but I'm going to apply on that, brilliant. Women tend to go; I can do that. I can do that, that, that or I can't do that one thing soI'm not going to apply. That's the difference between men and women's brains, I'm not going to go into that on this blog but there is research into it and how the brains work, our brains are different, we are wired differently.

Sometimes and it's not just women, it's men as well, sometimes we feel a bit inferior, or we have imposter syndrome, or we're worried about what the other people will think. Have I been here long enough? Have I have I earned the right to do this?

That can come in many different shapes and forms; the have I earned the right to do that. It might be that you've work in a culture where you believe that you have to be in a position for five years before you can apply for something. When I was first in policing that was definitely the case, that you were expected to get at least five years’ experience before you applied for anything in a specialist unit. So when, when somebody who was very driven came in and they went well I've done my probation, I've got two years in, I'm going to apply for that, people go, oh, you have no right. You have no right to do that.

Maybe you have an organisational culture that is very similar, or maybe it's your internal dialogue that's telling you don't have the right, who's going to listen to you, what are you going to say to that. I do podcasts and I'm just setting up a YouTube video and I have that constant internal dialogue as well, that says, what gives you the right to be able to do that and then sometimes the other side of my brain will go well, actually I've got 15 years of experience, worked on the front line, done operations and then the other side of my brain will be like, yeah, but there's people that are more experienced than you, and it's true there are people that are more experienced than me, but I believe I have a message to share and so I'm stepping out of my comfort zone and doing that.

We know when we step out of the comfort zone that's where we grow, and that's where the progress in our own lives is and that's where we become powerful. One of the things that I hear people say to me is, what happens if the other person is more powerful than I am? As soon as you have that feeling, you give away your power. Does that make sense and you give away your power, if I think that somebody is more powerful than me. I'm giving them my power. I might as well not even ask. So, before I even knock on the door, open the door and go in and have a conversation of, you know, I'd like to pay rise because and given them a whole list of reasons of how great I am and what an asset to the company I am and why deserve pay rise. I haven't given myself permission. I've just gone, well actually I don't deserve it. So, when I go in, I'm not ready for that conversation. I'm not standing in my own power, to be able to ask for that pay rise. It's almost like I don't believe I deserve it before I've even opened the door. And that's actually very powerful if you think about it you think about those conversations where you want to ask for something or you want to put your opinion forward and give your point of view, but you don't empower yourself you allow either your internal dialogue to kick in and talk you out of it. Or you'll find an excuse, which again is probably your internal dialogue to find an excuse not to do it.


And then we're going to look at the fourth p, which is perspective. Look at the world from the other person's perspective we've already talked about putting glasses on, looking at the world for a different lens. Put yourself in their shoes, so if you're asking for a raise or you're asking for a promotion, what do you think the other person that will be thinking, what will be going on for them?

I've already given a clue you know I am a business owner, I have staff, and I often find myself coming at the business perspective of looking at it from a very clinical financial point of view. Now as a business owner, absolutely. Sometimes there is a place for that, you need to do it but on the flip side, my team are not looking at it from that perspective. They are looking at it for how much they put in, how many hours that they've worked, what's going on outside, other roles that are perhaps better paid or that inflation has moved up and so they're needing more money anyway to just be able to cover their mortgages and their bills. Unless I stop and press the big pause button and go right let me look at the world, from their perspective rather than just my own. Let me put my glasses down over to one side and I'm going to pick another pair of glasses up. And now I'm going to step into your shoes and think about what you see, what is it that's making you even come into this office and ask for a pay rise or ask for a promotion or ask to be recognised in a different way.

The 4 Ps - Plan, Practice, Permission, Perspective

So, we've got four P's I'm going to summarise now.

So, the first one is plan, make sure you have a plan, what is your goal? What do you want to really be the outcome? Why do you want it? We know that when we know our why we're more determined, we're more resilient, we're more likely to take action.

Number two, practice. So, find somebody you trust, record yourself, jot down a few words. Practice what you're going to say before you even go into that meeting, which will help you with nerves, but it will also help you to put your point across.

Three, give yourself permission. You now know your why because you've done tip one, which was plan. Now give yourself permission before you even walk into that door. Don't let that internal dialogue that might be more negative talk you out of it. Give yourself permission to go I'm worth this you know, I'm worth doing this.

Lastly, perspective. We're going to look at the world from another perspective, the other person's perspective and just put up their glasses on for a little while.

I hope that all helps you. I hope that will make sense. Give me a shout, if I can help you further. But most importantly remember those four P's before going in asking for a pay rise or for a promotion.

Take care.


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