Whether you're asking a potential employer for more money or your current boss for a raise, talking about money is awkward, especially when you are searching for the best way to phrase your request.
"Money is very tightly tied to our self-esteem," says Meryl Runion, author of "PowerPhrases." Asking for more money means saying you think you're worth more -- and risking hearing that someone else disagrees. "If somebody tells you, 'No, I don't think you are worth that much,' it's almost like saying you're not that valuable as a person."
A little practice can help you find the right words to make these requests -- and respond to the answer you get. Runion and other experts offer the following tips for two common scenarios.
Scenario 1: Getting a Raise
* Asking your current boss for a raise: The key is to ask in a way that shows you've done your research. Try saying, "I've been evaluating my own performance and what you've told me about my performance, and I would like to talk with you about increasing my salary," suggests Marcia Stein, a human resources consultant who recently published a book about recruiting.
This approach alerts your boss that you have analyzed your contributions and are not simply asking for a raise because you want more money. And by asking for a time to talk, rather than simply stating the raise you want, you give your boss time to prepare.
* If the boss says no: Despite your preparation, it may turn out that your boss isn't able or willing to pay you more. Try to find out the reason -- is there a companywide freeze on raises, or does your boss not agree that you deserve more? Stein suggests showing your interest in improving your performance by saying, "What would you recommend that I do so I can be one of the top performers on your team?"
Scenario 2: Negotiating a Higher Salary
* Negotiating a higher salary with a new employer: If you're offered a job but were hoping for more money, the key is to make the request in a positive way, says Lori Itani, an independent staffing consultant who focuses on high-tech companies and hears candidates' responses to offers. "If they're telling me that they really like the company, they really like the position, the manager and the team, and they'd really like to have this work, that's a good thing to say."
Itani suggests a way to phrase the request: "I'd really like to come on board, but I need some more help with relocation." If your goal is a higher starting salary, finish the sentence with, "but I need a little more in salary to justify the move from my current company to yours."
* If the employer says no: Even when you ask politely, it may turn out that the employer isn't willing to increase the offer. In that case, assuming you still want the job, your goal is to find out the possibilities for future raises -- while emphasizing that you intend to work hard. Runion suggests saying, "If I can prove my value, what are the possibilities for future raises?"