It’s hard to ask for money.
With the exception of those of us who are absolutely convinced of their own worth (congrats), negotiating a salary or a raise can be a stressful, fraught situation. If your boss says no, then what? What does that say about you?
If this sounds familiar, you’re thinking about it all wrong.
On Quora, As Seen on TV CEO Ron Rule makes a simple statement that smoothes over the bumps and slights of asking for more:
“Wages and income are about what the job is worth, not the individual.”
Rule shares this insight as part of his answer to the question “What knowledge does the wealthy 10 per cent understand that the other 90 per cent are missing?“
“As a person, as a human being, your value is immeasurable,” Rule writes. “If you went missing in the woods our society would easily spend five or six figures trying to find and rescue you, without hesitation. But dude, putting a sticker on a box is still only worth $5. If that.”
You’ve probably heard that business isn’t personal. In just a few sentences, Rule has highlighted a perfectly logical fact anyone would admit is true … if they recognised the distinction in the first place. He continues (emphasis his):
“Your income potential isn’t about what you need or what the employer can afford, it’s about the value of what you do. Those who are in the upper income brackets have understood and embraced this reality and have worked to bring something of value to the market or their company.”
Now that we have that clear, what does it mean for your earnings?
It means that the next time you sit down in a job interview or a salary negotiation, come armed with evidence of your exemplary work, not your exemplary self. Although you’re probably delightful, your employer or potential employer doesn’t pay you for smiles — they pay for results.
This negotiation advice isn’t revelatory. Claudia Telles, a 28-year-old who made a $30,000 leap within the same company, told Business Insider she started by doing extensive research on what the position was worth, and by emphasising what the company would gain by hiring her for a new, more valuable position.
As personal-finance expert Ramit Sethi says of salary negotiation, “80% of the work happens before you enter the room.”
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be a generally pleasant deskmate and human being. However, keep in mind that your earnings — however much or little — aren’t about you. They’re about your job.