How to Prepare for Pay Raise Request Objections

So you’re ready to confidently negotiate a pay raise. But your boss is ready with reasons why you can’t get the amount that you deserve, even after you’ve presented a solid case.

  • Are you ready with replies which will keep the discussion going?
  • Can you sustain the negotiation process until an agreement is reached?

With proper preparation, the answer can be “yes.”

Preparation Step 1

The first readiness step is to anticipate all the objections, arguments or obstacles your boss might have for not granting your pay raise request. You’re the best person to develop a specific list which matches your situation, but here are four common ones:

  • “We don’t have the budget for your pay raise request.”
  • “I’d like to grant you a raise, but it’s not my decision.”
  • “I can’t give you a raise; you know we only give COLA increases.”
  • “I can’t give you a raise; you’re already at the top of the pay scale.”

Assess the Objections Before You Negotiate a Pay Raise

Even when your boss wants to give you a raise, s/he might have legitimate obstacles to granting it. On the other hand, your boss might offer objections which are actually smoke screen excuses for not granting it.

Your discernment of the two types prior to the meeting can help you clarify hidden agendas which in turn, may guide you in developing your negotiation strategy and replies. (If you need 1-to-1 guidance with your strategy and replies, I can help.)

Preparation Step 2

Your next readiness step is to write scripted replies to the anticipated objections. Your communication style, your negotiation style, your boss’s personality and needs, and your employer’s culture must all be considered as you craft your scripted replies.

The Essential Pay Raise Workbook for Women has seven full pages of scripted replies to objections which keep your pay raise negotiation moving forward towards your goal. But to get you started, here are…

Four Steps to Help You Craft Your Replies

1. Get acknowledgement from your boss of the merits of granting the raise, even though s/he contends there are reasons it can’t be granted.

What I hear you saying is that, you would grant my request for a ___% increase if it weren’t for the budget constraints. Is that correct?…Thank you. I appreciate your recognition of the value I’m bringing to the job.

This acknowledgement by your boss of your contributions and value as an employee is crucial. It sets the stage for Step 2: to move forward with reframing the pay increase issue. Or for engaging your boss in a collaborative, problem-solving negotiation of the options you generated. (See Chapter 6 of The Essential Pay Raise Workbook for Women.)

2. Be prepared to reframe the raise objection or to negotiate your options.

There’s usually a way to position your request to get around the objection or to offer up alternative options. Tackling this step is where my clients find high value in salary negotiation coaching.

3. Be prepared to negotiate to negotiate.

The “negotiate to negotiate” strategy is employed if you find you need to keep your pay raise issue alive. It’s a way to fend off an outright refusal or a final “no.” Be prepared to ask your boss if you can revisit the issue. For example: May I have a better understanding of [the stated reason behind the objection]? Take notes as s/he provides you with more specifics.

I’d like to take into consideration your comments and concerns and modify my request. Would you be willing to take another look in [time frame]?

As long as the discussion continues, the possibility of getting what you’re pursuing remains.

4. Rehearse your scripted replies to each of your anticipated objections.

Even if you can’t recall the exact wording when you’re in the meeting with your boss, your repetitive practice imprints onto your mind the essence of the response. As a result, you’ll be able to respond readily and confidently when faced with each objection. Content plus confidence move you toward the outcome you want.

How to Confidently Ask for a Pay Raise

Pay Raise Workbook for Women
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