“Never Ask Something of Someone Who Isn’t Happy:” Advice for Women Seeking Raises

Earlier this week, The Cut interviewed 12 “regular women” from a variety of industries, asking them to share advice for women who want to negotiate for more money at work.

Many of the tips will sound pretty familiar: quantify your contributions to the company, use sites like Glassdoor to research appropriate compensation, negotiate for a better benefits package if there’s no money available.

But then there’s this one, from a woman working in pharmaceuticals:

Whenever I am negotiating for something with an employer, I make sure to find a time when they are in the best mood and energy level possible. Pay close attention to what your boss is doing, what they have on the horizon, and how stressed they are. If you can access their calendar (our company calendars are all available to one another), find a time with nothing big planned. Schedule something far in advance (two weeks or so) so they have time to plan ahead for it mentally, and don’t feel like it’s being sprung on them. And if you notice that your boss is in a very bad mood in the days leading up to it, reschedule. So much of what you can get financially depends on how someone feels in the moment — it could be the difference of a few thousand dollars, just because the person deciding was having a good time at home and had a vacation coming up. Never ask something of someone who isn’t happy.

That one is going to stick with me for a while. My cynical side wants to prove all of the reasons why this advice is wrong — the last time I worked in an office, there was never a day that had “nothing big planned,” for example — but that’s just nitpicking around the basic idea.

Never ask something of someone who isn’t happy.

(I suppose the inverse of this would be: “if your boss is never happy, it’s time to find another job.”)

Has anyone ever tried this? Does it work? Would you reschedule a salary review if you walked into the office that morning and your supervisor didn’t look happy enough? It could be the difference of a few thousand dollars, after all.

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