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Asking advice on how to get a raise

Dear J.T. & Dale: I want to ask my boss for a raise, but he is a MASTER negotiator. He knows how to talk anybody out of anything. I’ve thought about threatening to quit, but I know he would call my bluff. Got any techniques to get him to cave? – Tara

J.T.: Sure. It needs to be his idea. There’s a great book by former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss called “Never Split the Difference.” In it, he teaches incredible techniques for negotiating. You make this your boss’s idea by learning how to ask him questions that get him to want to give you the raise. For example, identifying who gets raises and why will help with your strategy. You can then ask him what it would take for you to receive a raise. Instead of saying “Can I have one?” and getting told “no,” you say, “I need a raise, so what will have to happen for me to get one here?” This makes it clear that one way or another, you plan to make more money.

DALE: As someone who works as a mediator in business disputes, I’m with J.T. on urging you to learn more about negotiating – after all, it’s an important life skill. However, I wouldn’t go up against a master negotiator with a bald “I need a raise.” Instead, I’d refuse to play the game … or at least, seem to refuse. Start by saying you want his advice on moving your career forward. Then, when the conversation turns to money, disarm him by saying that you know you’re no match for his negotiating skills, but you need to learn negotiating from him. Do your research and know what you’re worth, and also have a list of accomplishments. Keep asking for his help on how to negotiate a raise, and I bet you’ll get one while gaining some important wisdom.

Dear J.T. & Dale: I’ve had a very successful 25-year career in executive management with a Fortune 1000 company. I was recently laid off. I thought finding a new job would be easy. Well, it’s not. I’ve been told I don’t have a good online presence. Are you kidding me? Doesn’t a successful career at a top company speak for itself? – David

J.T.: You’ve been given some valuable feedback. With all your experience, you know taking critical feedback is the key to growth. Put your ego aside and figure out how to make your track record more relevant online. This is the future. Employers expect to be able to learn about you online. I tell clients “Brand or BE branded.” When you fail to have a strong online presence, you are sending potentially negative messages like you A) aren’t tech savvy, B) have no impressive accomplishments, or C) have something to hide. Keep in mind, you were laid off. While that’s common, employers will still wonder why you got laid off after 25 years. Could it be that you haven’t kept up with the times? I’m sure that’s not the case, but you can see how good online branding could help you tell the truth and control the messaging!

DALE: And there’s no place better to learn about branding yourself than at J.T.’s site, You’ll soon realize that not only do you need to pay attention to your online presence, but you also should plunge into that process with enthusiasm. It’s online where you’ll be able to locate and reconnect with your old colleagues and allies. I suspect you’ll be sheepish about that, thinking: “I should have kept in touch with these people all along and only now, when I need help, am I contacting them out of the blue. They’ll scoff at me!” No, everyone who uses tools like LinkedIn is so used to hearing from old colleagues that they’re likely to have just the opposite reaction. I’m sure it’s hard to suddenly find yourself a “tough sell,” but that’s the mindset that will encourage you to take all those old connections and build them into new ones.

Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm jtodonnell. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with Please visit them at, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.