5 Tips to Avoid Awkwardness When Asking for a Raise

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to ask for raise as a nurse practitioner; your boss would be in tune with your productivity and all of your accomplishments, and reward you for such by their own initiative. But unfortunately, in the real world, that is rarely the case. Instead it’s up to you to take charge and ask for an increase in compensation. 

No matter how solid your case for a raise is, there always seems to be an awkward moment in the meeting that leaves you either flushed in the face with embarrassment or second guessing your efforts. Fortunately there are several things you can do to help alleviate the inevitable awkward moments and boost your confidence when asking for a raise in your nurse practitioner position. 

Consider whether it’s a good time to ask

Strongly consider the state of the company and whether now is the right time to ask for a raise. For example, if the patient census has been low and the facility has felt the impact financially, it may not be a good time to ask and it could definitely make things awkward for you and your boss. If you determine that the state of the facility is not in a good place, you could still try to leverage for non-monetary forms of compensation such as a more flexible schedule or more paid time off.

Do your research

Having statistics and examples of your contributions and productivity to back yourself up will give you the added assurance that you that you actually do deserve a raise. You’ll be able to quickly answer questions and objections from your boss without fumbling through your responses. And, because it’s hard to deny the facts, your boss will be less likely to kill the conversation when you cite concrete evidence. Have this information locked and loaded, and ready to use in your pitch, knowing that you will most certainly be asked to provide more information on why your employer should give you a raise.

Study up on comparable job salaries to get an idea of how much other nurse practitioners in your specialty are earning, but be realistic when thinking about your expectations. Take into consideration your experience and the location of your job and make a list of all of the contributions you’ve made to the company. Calculate an honest amount that you’d like your pay increased to based on these facts and figures. This will help you not to be too off-base with a laughable number in your boss’ eyes. You’ll have confidence in knowing that your desired pay is not outlandish.

Prepare and practice your pitch

The ultimate goal when preparing what you’ll say is to make a clear and concise case for yourself using key points that justify your argument for a pay raise based on your research. Know in advance how you’ll start the conversation, how you’ll present the facts and statistics, and how you’ll respond to specific objections. If you’re not sure how to start the conversation, begin with a positive and lead into the reason for your meeting. For example, “I am so grateful for the opportunity to work here, but I’d like to have a discussion about my compensation.”

Be careful not to over prepare by memorizing a set script. Doing so creates for the potential that you might be thrown off guard when your boss has objections. Instead role play the part of a resistant boss using different possible scenarios and objections you might encounter so that this doesn’t happen. Expect the unexpected. If money is truly out of the question, have alternatives in mind to ask for like a re-evaluation of your pay at a future date, a flexible work arrangement or additional PTO.

Avoid making it personal

At all costs, avoid going in whining about any financial troubles you may have or complaining about any issues you may have with another co-worker. Stick to the facts of why you deserve a raise based on the research you’ve done. Stating that you need a raise for personal reasons or because another NP makes more than you can cause the conversation to take an awkward turn. Trying to get sympathy does not, and should not, translate into a higher salary.

In some cases, your boss may start talking about his or her own frustrations with their compensation (even if you don’t bring up your own personal finances). He or she could be doing this as a way to create shared sympathy and throw you off your game. Don’t comment and steer the conversation back to your negotiation as quickly as possible, sticking to the facts and figures you’ve prepared in advance. If your boss has an issue with their compensation too, they should be taking that up with their own boss, not with you.

Know how to handle awkward silences

But believe it or not, silence is a common negotiation tactic. If you’ve been as concise as possible by stating clearly what you’re looking for and have provided evidence to back you up, you’ve said enough. Wait out the silence and at all costs, don’t try to fill in these moments with statements that undermine your case like, “I’m sorry” or “I hope you’re not upset.”. Your manager may be thinking it over and weighing your points, and could even be seconds away from approving your request, so don’t interrupt their thought process. Likewise, your superior may be hoping you’ll cave and take your request back during this uncomfortable moment. Don’t undo all the preparation you did by breaking down, no matter how awkward the silence feels.

At the end of the day, asking for a raise as a nurse practitioner can be just plain awkward. Know that it is awkward for your boss too. Build genuine confidence in yourself by going in prepared. If you deserve a raise and your boss knows it, you should not walk away from the negotiation without something in return, no matter how awkward it may feel. If you’re still told no, don’t be afraid to ask what you can do to earn a raise in the future.

What’s the most awkward moment you’ve encountered when asking for a raise?