One of the biggest mistakes that most people make with negotiation occurs when they are negotiating for a promotion or status change.  See if you can relate to the example below.

Mark felt he deserved a raise.  He worked hard and did his job well.  Mark felt that he was more valuable than other employees at the business and knew that he was indispensable…so, he set up a meeting with his boss.

In this meeting, Mark stated his desire for a promotion.  He was direct and concise.

This was good. 

He went on to discuss how he was more valuable than other employees by comparing his work to that of others.  He mentioned that other businesses treated the person in his position better than he was being treated. 

He summed up his meeting by mentioning that he would look for employment elsewhere if he did not get a promotion.

This part was bad and Mark did not get his promotion.

Here is the fatal mistake that Mark made: he let his emotions get the best of him


Emotions are involved.  In fact, the process to summon the courage to ask for a raise or promotion comes from hours of proving to yourself that you are worthy. 

It is hard to separate emotions from this self-worth exercise, but you do not have to. 

Here are ways to use these emotions to your advantage. 

  1. Use a Positive Tone

When negotiating for a promotion or status change at work, avoid negative statements.  Do not compare yourself to others.  This is not sibling rivalry.  Instead, discuss your achievements and leave the comparison up to your boss. 

Leave the negative tone out of your justification for your request.  In other words, take the “whiny complainer” tone out of the equation by simply mentioning that you developed your requests based on industry standards.   

Positive presentation gains positive response.

  1. Do Not Complain

  Avoid that urge to complain…even if you are unhappy or feel that you are being undervalued.  A complainer does not win the favor of his/her boss. 

Forget the saying “squeaky wheel gets the oil”.   That wheel does not get a new axle, drive chain adjuster plate, spacer, bearing, or sprocket.  This means that the “squeaky wheel” only gets the aid that will stop it from squeaking at that time. 

Complaining shifts a person out of a positive light (for doing great work) into a negative light.  Burden and hassle are the last things you want your boss to feel when they see you…especially when you are asking them for a favor.

Nobody wants to do a favor for a complainer. 

  1. Remember Your Position

You are not in the position to make demands or threaten.  That’s right, you are asking for a favor when you ask for a promotion.  Your organization does not have to give you a raise or a promotion.  They are not obligated to anything beyond the contract that you signed.

However, it is in their best interest to keep their valued employees happy.  So, show them that you are a valued employee.  Gain their favor. 

Prove to them that you are an amazing employee and that investing in you would bring great benefit. Exchange the demanding tone with a deserving tone and it will be easier to ask for a favor. 

  1. Be a Teacher’s Pet

You began to learn about negotiation in grade school. The teacher’s pet was the person who not only excelled academically, but assisted the teacher in class, led by example, and took small actions to gain praise from the teacher. 

They may not have realized it, but they gained the favor of the teacher. 

This means that the teacher:

  • was acutely aware of the benefits of having the student in the class;
  • would question their own teaching methods if this student did not perform well; and
  • would grant special requests made by this student.

Your boss is your teacher.  Stay behind that fine line between gaining favor and kissing butt…you do not want to bribe, befriend, or annoy. 

You want your boss to think of adjectives such as dependable, trustworthy, and advanced each time they think of you. 

Follow these tips to avoid letting your emotions get the best of you.  Yes, you will be upset if you do not get what you want.  But, you will reduce your risk of getting it if you share this with your superiors by comparing, complaining, demanding, and threatening.

You are not a spoiled child.  You are a valuable professional.  Don’t force your boss to make this distinction. 

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