Asking for a raise? Silence is golden


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By Eve Tahmincioglu

There’s an awkward pause that happens right after you ask your boss for a raise. 

What ever you do, don’t say anything.

“Silence is a power leveler,” said Selena Rezvani, negotiation expert and author of the recently released “Pushback: How Smart Women Ask--and Stand Up--for What They Want,” during our live Web chat Wednesday.

“Silence is one of the most under-used tactics in a negotiation,” she pointed out. “I'm talking about using this strategically. For example, being quiet right after you make your request, and being quiet again for a few seconds when you get your answer.”

Asking for more money is one of the toughest things employees have to do, but now may be the best time because many employers are handing out more pay raises

Rezvani offered advice on how to ask for everything from a raise to more vacations time during our live Web chat. Here’s a sampling of her answers to readers questions:

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Renee asked:

“I have been at my job for two years and have never had a raise even mentioned to me. I feel I am valuable to my company with all I contribute. Fellow employees have told me that our company rarely gives raises, some have even said they wait 4 years for a raise. How can I approach my boss about this?”

Rezvani answered:

“First off, don't wait to be asked about your raise! It's best if you bring it up. I am not a fan of waiting until review time... If you have a strong case, make it anytime of the year, but preferably right after a big accomplishment.

“Also, don't be frightened out of asking for a raise just because no one else is doing it or "it's not done around here." If anything, there is less of a trend toward rewarding every employee the same exact way. Show why you specifically deserve this raise and how you can contribute at even higher levels in the future.”

Jay asked:

“How do you negotiate with an employer for more vacation time when they say it is non-negotiable during an interview?”

Rezvani answered:

“Vacation time is often negotiable - even when people say it's not. It all depends on how much they want you. If it's something you're emphatic about, tell them. But have an alternative or second-best outcome if they continually push back.

“Come up with options. If you're first choice is 30 vacation days, ask for that first. If they push back, try 28 days with reimbursement for a $1,000 training course. Your third option could be 25 days, a training course, and something else of value to you.”

For more of this enlightening discussion and targeted tips for employees trying to negotiate better, check out a replay of the Web chat here: