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Work/Life: How to make a big ask, from favors to compensation

On this episode of Work/Life, Ciara Pressler, founder and author of Pregame and Game Plan, talks with DT’s Greg Nibler about how to make a big ask in the workplace, from favors to negotiations to compensation. Pressler gives tips and tricks on the best practices for advocating for yourself and getting ahead in your career.

There are many things you may be wanting to ask for in your job and career, and one of the main areas people need advice on navigating is conversations about compensation. Whether you’re interviewing for a new job, or you’re already at a company and are looking to move into another position or are due for an annual review, there are several things you can do to tip the scales in your favor.

So how does one go about asking for what they want? First, Pressler says, “you have to ask the person who is making the decisions.” When you identify the decision maker, “you then have to build your case,” she says, and you have to make it about your job and performance, not your personal life.

“It’s not your job’s fault that you chose to live in an expensive house or want an expensive vacation,” she says. “You have to keep it about your contribution to the workplace, about the market value. Keep your case grounded in fact. Document what you’ve been able to achieve, and that will make it an objective ask.” Make it brief, concise, and write it down, she adds.

Pressler goes on to offer a few more tips about how to ask for the things you want in your career. “You have to get over the fear,” she says. Opportunities to discuss what you want in your job don’t come up all the time, so you have to ask when you have the opportunity, or the chance to ask again might not come up for a long time. “If you don’t ask for the salary you need, look at how much money you’ll lose over time,” she says. Think of the consequences of not asking, and if you’re feeling timid about making the ask, “try creating another persona, or think of someone else who is bold, and play that character.”

After you have an opportunity to lay out the things you want, “shut up,” Pressler says. “We often negotiate ourselves back out of our ask” because we get uncomfortable. “Being able to sit in a few seconds of silence is one of the best negotiation tactics I know,” she says. Be clear about what you want, present your evidence, and then stop talking. “Get what you’re worth,” Pressler advises.

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