Times are difficult, and your odds of getting what you want at work might not be as high as they were five years ago. But why give up before you even start? I believe it's better to ask and not receive than to not ask and to meekly settle for less than you deserve. Now is the time to do everything you can to ensure that you aren't seen as interchangeable or dispensable. Make sure you aren't viewed as a commodity. Do what you need to do to stand out. Get in the middle of everything and bring new ideas to the table. If you're able to make yourself invaluable and leverage the things that make you unique, you'll also make yourself impossible to replace. And when that happens, you'll be in control of your own price. Sure, you might not get that raise tomorrow or the next day, but when things do pick back up, you'll be at the head of the line.
Explain the difference between ambition and greed in the marketplace.
Before you march into your boss' office, ask yourself these questions. Why do I want a raise? Do I just want more money, or am I honestly interested in advancing in this company? Wanting more money isn't a bad thing, but it can get you into trouble if your quest for cash mires you deeper in a commitment you're not passionate about or causes you to ignore opportunities that might be ideally suited to your strengths and interests. Always make sure you're negotiating for the right reasons. I'm ambitious and competitive, but I've left very large sums on the table because the opportunity wasn't something I was passionate about. And I haven't regretted those decisions once.
Why should someone ask for more than she thinks she can get?
It's part of being a strong negotiator. You have to be your own advocate. Remember the adage, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Don't jump too fast to say yes to the first offer, even if you think it's fair. It's always smart to assess the situation, the person making the offer, and how far you might be able to go before signing your name on the dotted line. Chances are, if your request for more is denied, you'll still be left with the initial offer.
Twitter@DawnHouseTrib Vickie Milazzo, author