Negotiation expert on the one exercise you need to do to practice for asking for a raise

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Asking for a raise is extremely nerve-racking for most professionals, which is why practicing to do so is extremely important. Let’s face it- you can only have a mock conversation with your roommate, spouse, or friend so many times before they tell you to get lost and just ask for a raise.

While these practice conversations are extremely important, there is also a low-stakes exercise that can get you more comfortable with asking for more, according to Alexandra Dickson, founder and CEO of Ask For It and Membership Strategy Lead at SoFi.

Practice asking for more

“If you only negotiate when you’re asking for a raise, then the only times you get to practice are when the stakes are really high,” Dickinson said.

Dickinson suggests that practicing negotiating on a daily basis, in low-stake situations, will allow you to feel more comfortable when sitting at the table across from your boss.

There’s a variety of ways to practice negotiating in everyday life with stakes that won’t cost you anything.

Examples that Dickinson suggests is asking for discount when checking out at a store, asking for extra cheese at Chipotle, or asking for a complimentary upgrade on your hotel room while checking in.

The worst that happens in any of those situations is that the person says no, and you still have what you had before you asked.

“What you learn from that experience is: so they said no, so what?” Dickinson said.

While asking for extra is something we are trained to feel uncomfortable doing, Dickinson believes we can train ourselves to be comfortable asking for more.

“It might be uncomfortable for a minute, but how much are you willing to pay to avoid an awkward conversation?” Dickinson said.

Practicing having the actual conversation around a raise is important to do with a friend or career coach, but these little exercises will help you practice in your everyday life.

The most common mistake when asking for a raise

According to Dickson, the most common mistake people make around asking for a raise is not doing it at all.

After that, the most common mistake in the negotiation room is waiting to react to a number instead of coming prepared with research and a number of your own.

“You don’t have any leverage at that point,” Dickson said. “It’s better to put the number out there first.”

According to Dickson, it’s much better to propose your own number first because of a concept called anchoring, which allows you to “anchor” the negotiator to your high number- instead of them anchoring you to a lower number.

“Say you’re interviewing for a new job and the range is between $60,000 and $80,000, they might give you a first offer of $60,000 and it’s going to be hard for you to climb up,” Dickson said. “Whereas if you started out by asking for $80,000 you might get $75,000.”

How often should you ask for a raise?

Additionally, Dickson says that professionals don’t ask for raises nearly enough as they should.

When she says ask for raises “regularly” she means once a year, starting from your first job.

SoFi created Get That Raise, a new tool that helps you estimate how much you could be missing out on if you don’t ask for a raise every year, and gives you information on how much your next raise should add to your paycheck each year.