Almost 60 percent of Americans report being too scared to ever ask for a pay raise. Their specific fears are numerous: fear of losing their job, fear of seeming too pushy, fear of being rejected. And that makes sense. After all, asking for more money can be intimidating for anyone, and there's no guarantee you'll get the answer you want. But for introverts, this fear is even more pronounced. Many introverts are naturally quiet, or may even identify as being shy. They may fear confrontation or find the idea of promoting their own successes incredibly uncomfortable.
So what can be done to lower our collective anxiety about negotiating pay-rates and promotions, so we can get what we deserve? Here are some tips tailored for the introverts among us:
1. Remove the confrontation
Introverts sometimes find it difficult to translate their inner monologue for others. As a result, the idea of direct communication — especially with those in positions of power — can create a great deal of anxiety. They equate negotiating salaries with overstepping their boundaries. But this conversation doesn't have to be confrontational at all. It can be friendly, jovial, gentle.
"When I talk to my female clients when they want to negotiate an agreement — a lot of times they will say to me, but I don't like being confrontational," says Natasha Khazanov, a psychologist and associate clinical professor at the UCSF medical school. "You can negotiate agreements in a way that is effective, that is assertive but not aggressive, that is gentle, that is feminine."
Find a way of speaking that is comfortable and honest for you, and recognize that negotiating your pay rate is not only reasonable, but it is expected by your employer.
2. Practice your body language
Introverts often feel drained by social interaction and may want to retreat into themselves. This feeling can be reflected in the way they carry themselves. They will assume "closed" positions, stooping their shoulders or crossing their arms in front of them. This not only makes them seem anti-social to observers, but it also seems to have the sort of self-fulfilling effect of reducing their own confidence and making them feel "powerless."
Amy Cuddy is an associate professor of business administration at Harvard and a social psychologist. She focuses on how body language influences behavior when it comes to negotiation. In her incredibly popular TED Talk called "Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are," she says "powerful people tend to be, not surprisingly, more assertive and more confident, more optimistic ... They take more risks. There are a lot of differences between powerful and powerless people."
By assuming powerful physical positions, you can actually feel more powerful, and project confidence at the same time. Cuddy recommends that you literally get physical here: Stand tall! Stretch out your arms! Puff up your chest! In other words, make yourself look powerful, and you'll feel powerful, too. Conversely, Cuddy found that when interviewees take on physically smaller shapes, they're less confident and their interview performance tanks. So, remember to check in with yourself before a negotiation starts to ensure that your body language communicates confidence.
3. Highlight your accomplishments with data
It is difficult for introverts to talk about themselves, especially amongst those who they perceive to be louder, more confident extroverts. However, introverts tend to be high performers at work and can build their reputation by highlighting their achievements and efficiency. The trick is to let the data do the talking.
Instead of leading with emotional arguments, Nicole Smartt, the owner of recruiting agency Star Staffing, and author of From Receptionist to Boss: Real-Life Advice for Getting Ahead at Work, suggests focusing on the facts, and giving specific examples of when you have gone above and beyond your role or taken on additional job duties. By preparing yourself to discuss your track record and how it's benefited the company, you can prove how your performance has driven ROI and positively affected your company's bottom line. You don't have to do all the talking: Let the numbers speak for themselves.
4. Use your active listening skills to make connections
Introverts are sometimes overlooked for leadership positions because they keep to themselves. This can be interpreted as a "lone wolf" mentality. But when it comes to negotiating a promotion or raise at work, you need buy-in not only from your boss, but also from your peers. This means you need to make friends and allies across the company.
"Sometimes it's a panel, people from different departments [that decide your fate], so I think networking is really important now, like how you build relationships," says Nancy Lin, an executive and business coach based in San Francisco. "Not just when you are asking for a promotion, but on an ongoing basis for your career advancement in general."
But making new friends and connections could be daunting for an introvert. This is when you use your unique strengths. Many introverts have the keen ability to "actively listen," so the more you can play up that strength — by asking others questions about themselves, for example — the more you're able to communicate that you care about coworkers and value their thoughts and opinions. By getting to know your team better, you can boost the chances that those who are involved in decision-making process will be on your side.