You walk into your boss’s office for your performance review and you’re feeling confident. You’ve had a productive quarter and you’re expecting to be recognized for your accomplishments. The boss, all smiles, is thrilled to share the good news with you: you’re being promoted! He thanks you for all your contributions, tells you about your new responsibilities… but there’s one thing missing.
They’re not giving you a raise to go with your new title.
You leave the meeting in a state of shock and confusion. On the one hand, all the praise felt great: someone finally noticed how hard you’ve been working! But on the other, you’re starting to feel resentful, bordering on angry.
Who do they think they are, asking you to take on more assignments and management responsibilities without any more money? In fact, you’re considering marching right back into the boss’s office to demand a raise right now, or you’ll quit!
This is where you need to hold your horses.
As excruciating as it may feel, don’t indulge in an outburst right now. Instead, force yourself to step outside and take a walk around the block. Or find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed, like an empty office or conference room, to quiet your emotions.
To help yourself calm down, try this simple exercise called square breathing from Jean-Marc Berne, author of “The Heart-Voice Connection: How To Infuse Your Message With Real Emotion”. Berne recommends trying this technique before or after a difficult conversation.
“Breathe in through the mouth to get air in more quickly,” says Berne. “Your shoulders should be squared. Sit up straight without leaning forward or back. Place one hand on top of your belly button, and breathe in through the mouth. Feel your stomach expanding through the front, sides, and back: that’s full lung tank.”
To try square breathing, inhale for five seconds, pause for five seconds, exhale for five seconds, and pause for a final five seconds. Each segment is one side of the square. Do this for three full cycles. You should feel your heartbeat slow and your anxiety decrease by the time you’ve completed the exercise.
Now that you’ve calmed down somewhat, it’s time to think about practical matters: is this new arrangement negotiable? Follow these steps to figure out your game plan.
Sleep on this new information for at least one night before bringing it up with your boss. Let him know you’d like to schedule a follow up conversation for sometime the following week, and then it’s time to get down to work.
Gather your best evidence about why you deserve a raise. This includes any metrics you have access to, including value you’ve created (new initiatives you’ve launched or partners you’ve brought on), value you’ve saved (picking up slack for a team member who left, a better deal with a vendor), and your unique superpowers — the qualities that only you bring to your team. Be ready to articulate your accomplishments and any praise you’ve received from others for your performance.
Do some benchmarking around salaries for your new role. That includes looking at salary websites online as well as asking around. You should speak to current and former colleagues as well as other folks in similar roles in your industry to get a sense for the market rate. Prioritize speaking with a both men and women — ideally at least three of each.
Finally, make sure you have clarity on what you’re planning to ask for. Don’t leave it open ended. Try “I would like a raise of X%.” if you’re not sure what to say.
When you have your follow up conversation, be prepared to articulate your concerns calmly and professionally. Share your evidence, research, and then ask for what you want. Be prepared for a ‘no’ — you can assume that if they were going to give you a raise, they would have done it already.
Why go through this whole conversation then?
Assume it’s a no for now. Ask “if not now, when? What would it take to get this raise in the next six months?”
Assuming your manager is willing to work with you on a plan moving forward, you can set your expectations accordingly.
If you get a definitive rejection, it may be time to start considering your next move.
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.