The Negotiator Magazine

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Individuals seeking pay raises should try to state the reasons for their requests positively. They should not claim that they are being treated unfairly. Managers almost never appreciate criticism from their subordinates. It is thus important for the requesters to state the reasons they think they deserve the increases being sought. Some supervisors may try to avoid having to make a decision on such requests by refusing to provide an immediate answer. When this happens, the requesting persons should ask when they may expect a response. If necessary, they should schedule a follow-up meeting at which their request will be definitively addressed.

What should people do if they are only given part of the raise being requested? They should politely ask if their might be additional room for movement by the company. If not, they should ask whether their situations could be reviewed within the next six to nine months. They should also ask what else they could do in terms of new job responsibilities and/or professional development that would enhance their chances for advancement within the company. They should tell their managers how much they enjoy working for their current firms, and indicate their eagerness for professional growth. They should never mention the possibility of moving to another employer, unless they are truly prepared to relocate. They never know when their supervisor may call their bluff and let them leave.

Nothing enhances the likelihood for compensation increases more than offers from other companies. Persons who contemplate opportunities from other employers should do so cautiously to be sure they don't offend their current employer. If they are asked about efforts to locate positions elsewhere, they should not lie about such efforts. They should indicate that they are interested in the chance for professional advancement, and ask what they could do to obtain such opportunities within their present firm. If they make it clear they prefer to remain with their immediate employer, they may be offered the opportunities they desire.

Individuals often obtain offers from other companies they wish to accept. When this happens, they should always try to leave their current employer on beneficial terms. They should explain what a difficult decision it has been and talk about what wonderful years they had working for this company. They must realize that their current manager may ultimately leave this firm and go to another organization for which they would like to work. They might even be asked someday to return to their former employer to accept a more advanced position. If they are remembered fondly and are able to maintain cordial relations with their past managers and coworkers, these individuals could be of assistance in future years.


Charles B. Craver is the Freda Alverson Professor of Law at George Washington University. He is the author of The Intelligent Negotiator (2002 Prima/Crown) and Effective Legal Negotiation and Settlement (5th ed. 2005 LEXIS). Over the past thirty years, he has taught negotiating skills to over 70,000 lawyers and businesspeople through public presentations and in-house training programs. He can be reached at: ccraver@law.gwu.edu

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September 2005