When you’re avoiding something, any excuse can seem valid. How many ways did you come up with to get out of cleaning your room or doing your homework when you were a kid?
“But mom, I cleaned it last month!”
The same habits follow us into adulthood. Heck, sometimes it’s even a version of the same problem. Instead of cleaning your room, it’s now cleaning your whole apartment or house. Homework has become regular old work.
When it comes to negotiation, it’s the same story: we dread it, so we avoid it.
“I don’t know if I should negotiate for a raise because I’m planning to move to another state at some point.”
“I’m getting cold feet because my company never gives raises. It’s not going to work, so what’s the point?”
“I’m probably going to start looking for a new job anyway, so I don’t think it’s really worth it.”
These are objections that I’ve heard over and over again from people that are genuinely battling that self-doubt. Does it sound worth it to you?
From my perspective as a negotiation coach, the answer is yes — if you can answer two questions.
Why me? Can you make a strong case for why you deserve a raise? What evidence can you share to back yourself up? Strong evidence has three components: value you’ve created for your team or company, value you’ve saved for your team or company, and your superpower — your unique strengths that come to you effortlessly and naturally.
Why now? Strike while the iron is hot. The iron is hottest when you’ve recently accomplished something great or rescued your team from hot water. Your performance review is another good time to ask, as long as it’s not completely divorced from the budgeting cycle. (If budgets are finalized before review season, waiting until review season may not get you very far.)
So let’s say you meet both criteria. You can make a strong case, and you’ve just successfully launched a major new initiative for your company. But, you’re feeling undervalued and frankly a little bored at work, and you’ve been thinking of looking for something new anyway. Should you still ask for a raise?
Let’s break it down.
Should you still ask for a raise even though you might leave?
My response is yes, for several reasons. First, you’ve got the evidence. You deserve it. You’re not asking for more money because your rent went up or you want to take a fancy vacation. You’re asking because your performance is strong and you’d like that to be recognized financially based on merit.
Second, you might leave — but you don’t have anything lined up yet. Thinking about leaving is not the same thing as starting a job search process, interviewing at one or more places, and negotiating a new offer. It might take several months to find a new role that’s right for you. If in the meanwhile you’re feeling resentful and demoralized, that’s not good for you, your team, or your company.
Third, it’s a great opportunity to practice for when you do actually pursue another offer. Most of the benchmarking research you’ll do and the evidence you’ll put together to make your case for a raise will apply going forward. So long as you’re respectful when you make your ask, you have nothing to lose.
If you catch yourself making excuses to avoid asking for a raise you know deep down that you deserve, ask yourself this: how much am I willing to pay to avoid an awkward conversation?
This post originally appeared in Women@Forbes, where Alexandra Dickinson is a contributor. She writes about how to use a negotiation mindset to achieve your goals.