How to Talk to Your Boss (especially during tough times, like now!)

Negotiation skills have never been more important in getting a raise, time off, or a chance for advancement than they are now. Recent market events mean that employers are looking to secure the bottom line. With careful planning, you can take advantage of this crisis to improve your bargaining position.

First, one good tactic is to ask to meet the following day. Then be prepared; your boss may want to meet right away instead. This can be a critical point in your favor as it shows your preparedness under stress. Next, when you have the meeting let your body language enforce your words. Hold yourself confidently, keep your hands steady, and make eye contact.

Requesting a raise or a leave of absence requires excellent negotiation skills. For a raise, bring to the meeting evidence of both your growth as an employee and ways that you benefit the company. Bring past reviews and stress your improvements. If you can’t show evidence of your professional growth, don’t expect a favorable response. Your strength is in your value to the company.
A leave of absence always leaves the company in a strained position. You should be able to show why you need the leave and know how long you will need. This helps the company plan for both your absence and return. Also, if possible, offer suggestions for and assistance in facilitating the transition of your work responsibilities during your absence.

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Getting a promotion requires the same negotiation skills as a raise or time off. Here though, you want to stress the benefit to the company in giving you the higher position, and not just the benefit to you. Show how your current position has prepared you for the promotion. Don’t stress seniority or fairness. Stress how areas of your current position have prepared you for the advancement, and how that will save the company money in hiring and training a new employee.
The last negotiation skill you should bring into the meeting is to keep the meeting on track and within the timeframe requested. This shows your professionalism and respect for your boss’s time.

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From the Desk of Damen Choy.
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