A negotiation coach gives her advice on asking for a pay rise — including what to do if you have a job offer elsewhere

A negotiation coach gives her advice on asking for a pay rise — including what to do if you have a job offer elsewhere
Fotini IconomopoulosFotini Iconomopoulos
  • With millions of people quitting and firms boosting pay, now is a good time to ask for a pay rise.
  • Insider asked negotiations expert Fotini Iconomopoulos for tips on how to ask for a raise.

Asking for a pay rise can be uncomfortable — but with the record numbers of people leaving their jobs prompting some employers to boost wages, now is an ideal time to try for one.

Like any negotiation, discussions about a pay rise should be handled delicately.

Fotini Iconomopoulos has spent the past 20 years coaching people on the art of negotiation, and has written a new book on the topic called "Say Less, Get More." She told Insider that when you're negotiating for anything at work, be it a pay rise or more flexibility, ask how yourself how your desired outcome would "serve the other party."

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People often only focus on themselves in negotiations and fail to consider the other side, she said. "You [both] have common goals. So how do you frame it up in a way that's going to motivate them to want to serve your needs?"

She gave this example of how you could frame a request for more money:


"I have a great way to make me more motivated. Studies show us that motivated people end up much more productive.

"The way to do that is to make sure that my salary is competitive with other people on the market."

Threatening to leave outright is unlikely to work, Iconomopoulos said — at least not at the beginning.

"Threats in any type of negotiation are very much a last resort," she said, likening it to a threat to cheat on your partner if they don't do what you want. People become defensive and emotional when faced with threats, and that can destroy trust, she said.

Having another job offer can help

Having an offer at another company can be a powerful tool, she said — but only if you use it correctly. Make sure you never use it as a threat.


Iconomopoulos gave this example of what to say if you have an offer elsewhere:

"Look, I've been getting phone calls ... I don't want to have to go down that road.

"What can we do to make sure that this is sustainable? How can we work together so that I don't have to be tempted by other things like that?"

Sometimes your request will be refused, for lots of potential reasons. Most employers, for example, only offer raises and promotions at specific times of year.

If your company says no, asking questions that can establish your next steps is a good idea, Iconomopoulos said, giving the below examples of potential questions and answers.


Employer: "We don't have budget for that."

Ask: "How can we find a budget?" or "When would be a more appropriate time?"

Employer: "You need more experience"

Ask: "What does experience mean to you?" or "How will we judge when I've gained more experience?"

By asking these questions, "you're laying the foundation for them to give you proof of a next step," she said.


Ultimately, some requests will fail no matter what. "If despite your questions, they're being vague and evasive, that is confirmation that they're not sharing your values anymore," she said.