The 5 Worst Ways to Ask For a Raise


Everyone would love a raise-but there are several surefire ways to ensure you won't get one. What’s more important than recommending what you should say when asking for a raise? Talking about what you definitely should NOT say.

What’s more important than recommending what you should say when asking for a raise? Talking about what you definitely should NOT say.

Research has shown over and over again that money isn’t the most important thing to employee satisfaction. But, if you feel you are underpaid for the work you perform, then “nice colleagues” and an “understanding boss” just don’t cut it. To make sure that I wasn’t just too cynical to write this article, we held a focus group to find out what they thought.

“She got a raise, so I should too.”

This strategy isn’t good, because you are now comparing yourself to a colleague. This can make your boss agitated having to defend the other employee and why he/she deserves the raise. Most bosses don’t want to think that staff talk about their salaries (no employer wants a mutiny on their hands!). Not to mention, there’s always the chance that in your boss’ mind, you may not measure up to your coworker!   

A better way: Don’t focus on your colleague. Instead, focus on the quality work that you are providing.

Related reading: 5 things that will make you stand out and get a raise


I deserve a raise.”

 Demanding behavior will not get you anywhere. If you are confident and believe you deserve the raise, great! There’s no problem with that. The problem is if you come across as arrogant and demanding. There is a difference between confidence and demanding behavior. You need to learn how to navigate those waters.

A better way: Give specific examples of your job performance that ties into the bottom line for the practice. How are you helping to bring in more patients or save money? Why do you deserve a raise?

Trending article: How valuable are you to your practice?

I am leaving if you don’t give me a raise.”

I would not use this kind of wording. Ultimatums don’t work. Sometimes, the only way you are going to earn more money is to find greener pastures. But, you have to be mentally prepared to leave your job. Do not use this approach unless you already have another job offer on the table, or are financially stable enough to be able to get by without a job for an indefinite amount of time. The last thing you want is to be in the market for a job without having a job. You are less desirable to hire if you are unemployed.

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A better way: When you have that job offer, let your boss know. If you want to try to negotiate a raise in order to stay, be aware that it could work-but it could also backfire. Your commitment to the practice may be questioned in the future as to how loyal you are. If you looked for work now, what is stopping you from looking later?

When people are looking for other positions, they emotionally withdraw from where they currently work. When someone gives notice, their “investment” in their job changes. They detach. Their commitment quite often deteriorates the last couple weeks of employment. That is why some places help you out the door immediately. They are afraid you will sabotage the business or steal clients or something like that. Just be aware that this can happen.

I made you who you are.”

This is a threat. You imply that since you made them and/or their practice successful, you can destroy them if you don’t get what you want. This may be a surefire way to get helped out the door. You may think you made them who they are, but let’s face it… once they get there, you can easily become obsolete.

A better way: Just don’t go there. You can believe it, just don’t say it.

Islept with you… now pay up.”

This is the elephant in the room: Blackmail (over any situation) is not a good idea. The focus group initially said this while laughing, but they started to really talk about it. It is pretty serious. Having sexual relations with a boss never has a good outcome-and any form of extortion doesn’t make for a “healthy” work environment.

A better way: Never use blackmail (pretty simple!). Before you start a relationship, find a new job and protect your reputations and lives. Affairs can destroy everything you have. It gets even worse with sexual harassment claims!

Trending article: Fighting back against sexual harassment in the dental industry

To review: Don’t be demanding. Give facts and talk about your performance. Be prepared to find another opportunity if you are not happy. Just don’t jump ship without a net.

If you have stories about how to ask for a raise, email them to

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