How To Ask For What You Want

Here’s a bit of psyche mojo for when you have to ask someone for something, like a raise from your boss, or some extra time off from work.

First, make a list of reasons to back up your request. In the case of a raise, come up with all your job-related accomplishments and things you’ve done that are above and beyond the call of duty. In the case of time off, list all the extra hours you’ve put in without pay. Include times and dates, and what you were working on. The secret here is to be specific.

Then, when you’re actually asking, ask in a strong and straightforward manner. “I’ve been working hard and I deserve a raise,” or, “I put in a lot of extra time, and I want some time off with pay to compensate.” Never, ever ask in a weak, roundabout way, like, “Do you think, um, that it would be possible to, say, maybe, consider giving me a raise?” Psychologically, a weak question is easier to dismiss, and you’ve given them the advantage to laugh it off like you were joking, or simply say “Sorry, not this year.”

Now, you’ve asked your strong, demanding question. Without skipping a beat, follow up by asking for much more than you actually want. This is key, because there’s an outside chance that you’ll get it, but even more importantly, this gives you room to negotiate down to what you really want.

Next, and before they have a chance to respond to the amount, immediately list off all the reasons that you deserve this thing you’re asking for. This will keep them off balance and chip away at their ability to say no. Be calm, not too aggressive — don’t act angry and put them on the defensive — simply state it all in a matter of fact, earnest voice.

I deserve a raise. I want x number of dollars. I deserve it because yadda yadda yadda.

The most likely response will be, “I can’t give you that much, but…” and they’ll rattle off a lower amount. You counter with one that’s a bit less than your original demand. And, with luck, you negotiate down to your goal.

This works with more than just raises and time off. Use your imagination, and then get what you deserve.

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