what's the harm in asking?

My mom visited Minneapolis recently for the weekend and we ventured out to the gorgeous arboretum. As we were driving there, we realized we had forgotten a free admission ticket and were regretting our lack of planning. We approached the entrance and I decided to use the opportunity to practice negotiating. I rolled down the window and politely explained how we had a free ticket, left it at home, and would promise to tear up the ticket upon getting home if he could honor it. The attendant pondered it for a moment and said “sure, as long as you promise to not use that ticket again.” We promised and were able to use the free ticket. Everyone in the car except me was shocked this worked. Asking a simple question and thinking about what the other person cares about can help us get what we desire. Next time you’re in a similar situation, try out asking and see what happens.

In my last message, I wrote about the actual asking part of a career negotiation: prepping your manager in advance for the conversation and then making the pitch. I’ve heard from some of you how helpful the advice is on pausing after making your request and am glad to hear this is resonating.

Once you deliver your pitch, it can go a few different ways. If your manager is amenable to giving you what you’ve asked for, they will typically tell you they need to do some checking on their side and get back to you. Once they do that, if you’re still far apart on your needs, you could consider continuing the conversation to get closer to what you’re after. This can be daunting because it’s more than one round of negotiation but is completely normal.

Another way a negotiation can go is for your manager to be disinterested or to have said no to the items you’re proposing. If this should happen, there are a couple of options you have. First, you can ask some probing questions to find out more about their mindset. Second, you could agree the timing is off and set a time to speak about it again in the future (1 month, 3 months, 6 months, etc). Most will typically agree to this and it can set the stage for your future conversation. Good luck if you have a negotiation coming up; I’d love to hear the result if you use what you’re learning here.