While there are many things us Brits are great at (afternoon tea, pubs, sarcasm) there's no denying that discussing money is not one of them. Whether it's down to the famous stiff upper lip or that British sensibility, there's something about openly talking about - let alone asking for - money that brings many of us out in cold sweats.
So it will come as little surprise to most of us to learn that a recent survey showed over half of British workers have never broached the subject of money with their employers, with 21% admitting they were too nervous to ask for a pay rise.
The poll of 2,000 employees revealed that a third knew of colleagues doing the same job and getting paid more, but of those, only 36% had dared to discuss the issue with their superiors.
It's a difficult conversation we put off for various reasons, not least because we can all too easily picture ourselves whispering, "Please sir, can I have some more?" while the boss reels off a list of reasons we should be sacked. However, it's all a matter of confidence and if it's time for that meeting you've been dreading, we've put together five tips on asking for - and getting - the salary hike you deserve.
1. TACKLE LOW SELF-CONFIDENCE
The thought of asking for more can be terrifying simply because deep down, you think you're lucky to have a job at all. It's common to feel insecure, but Dr Chris Williams of NHS Choices has some advice for those lacking in self-esteem. "The first step is to spot some OK things about you. Things that you know are true and which challenge those negative views of yourself that you've picked up over the years. Try and think of at least five things about you that are OK. Things you do well, things you're interested in, times when you help others, that sort of thing." He advises writing down these points and reminding yourself of them in times of self-doubt. “Choose to think things like this instead, ‘I can do it because I did... something from my list’.”
2. KNOW WHAT YOU'RE WORTH
Corinne Mills, managing director of Personal Career Management, says those thinking of asking for a meeting to discuss their earnings should be armed with knowledge about salary expectations in the marketplace. "Before you ask, really think through your case very carefully. You'll have to justify it." If speaking to your coworkers is just too awkward, seek out job advertisements, ring recruiters or check out salary trackers, such as this one from TotalJobs.
3. GET ASSERTIVE
Some workplace situations are deeply frustrating, such as knowing what a colleague gets paid for doing the same job or feeling you work hard while others don't pull their weight. However, instead of getting worked up and turning the discussion into a bitching session or getting angry with your boss, approach it constructively, for instance, by outlining your own responsibilities and how you fit into the team as a whole. Dr Williams says: “Assertiveness is about putting your point across whilst respecting others. It's not the same as aggressiveness. Be assertive in the right way and people will have more respect for you."
4. CONSIDER COMPROMISE
While you might be after a higher salary, job website Monster.co.uk recommends considering what aspects of the job are important to you and therefore what you have to bargain with. "Would you be prepared to forgo a company car allowance if they were able to get a salary closer to what you desire? These tools may not have a specific monetary worth, such as having the option to work from home, but can be of great value to the negotiation process."
5. TIMING IS EVERYTHING
Heather Jackson, Founder and Chief Executive of The Two Percent Club (a high-level women’s network with the objective of increasing the proportion of women operating at the highest level in business), told Stylist that being prepared is key. As well as doing your research on comparable roles and showing that you have consistently met and exceeded the requirements of your job description, asking at the right time is crucial. She says: "Are pay rises awarded at certain times of the year? Are they linked to your performance review? The answers to these questions will vary from company to company, but generally you will find the information in your contract/handbook."
Photo: Rex Features