How to overcome salary negotiation nerves

Approach pay rise conversations with confidence with these tips

This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on Happiful

From March to April 2021 there has been a 219% increase in the number of people searching ‘How to ask for a pay rise?’ according to data from Google Trends.

As changes to the age eligibility for minimum wage were introduced at the beginning of April, and more people are returning to work in the office, there’s a been a surge in people wanting a pay rise – but many are not sure how to go about it.

That said, there are steps you can take to not only increase your chances of getting one, but to also reduce your anxiety around asking. We’ve compiled our five top tips on asking for a pay rise and ensuring the process is as smooth as possible.

Write down everything first

When it comes to a stressful moment, such as asking for a pay rise, you might get nervous when speaking and end up forgetting important points. Writing down what you want to say, using either pen and paper or in a Word document, can help you to nail down what you’re thinking.

In the first instance, writing also gets all the emotion of what you want to say out, and allows you to focus on the facts. The natural processing that happens when you write everything down will also help you to pull out your main points and create a cohesive argument. If you don’t know where to start, try these questions:

  • What do I need to increase my quality of life?
  • How can I justify my rise?
  • What evidence do I have to back up my rise?
  • What’s the minimum salary I want to settle for?

Pick a range over a set figure

If you go into a salary negotiation with a single figure, and don’t get everything you need, you may find yourself disgruntled with the end result. Instead set a range of at least £2,000 difference to ensure you get an adequate increase.

Be flexible in your negotiation

Instead of a salary increase, would you be willing to reduce your hours, or another solution? Increased holidays, or adding in flexible working hours, may also be something you would consider, instead of a direct pay increase.

However, if a pay increase is a must, have a minimum level of increase, either percentage-based or money-based, that you’re willing to accommodate.

Schedule a meeting first thing

Rather than waiting an entire day to discuss this with your line manager, or further up, try getting a meeting in the morning, so you’re not sitting on the anxiety all day; you can also try getting one earlier in the week so as to not think about it all week as well as all day. The sooner you get it out of the way the better.

Whoever you end up speaking to, whether that’s a manager, HR, or similar, ask who else will be in the meeting. They may bring in a staff representative or an outsourced payroll provider negotiator. Knowing this can also help you to decide what information you need to bring in.

Practice makes perfect

Practice what you want to say. Whether you’ve prepared responses to expected questions, have a statement you want to read or simply have a list of reasons why you think you want a pay rise, practice everything. You can to do it to a mirror, a partner, family member or friend. Get their feedback and use it to help you perfect what you’re going to say.

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