You can’t wait any longer. It’s been too long since you’ve gotten your last pay increase, and you know what you’re worth to this company.

It’s time to ask for…no, it’s time to demand a raise. 

And this time, you’re not going to take no for an answer.

Except…that puts you in a precarious position, doesn’t it? I mean, what if they say no? Are you ready to walk? If not, your negotiation position will be even worse next time around.

But, what I f there was a better way? What if you could greatly increase your chance at actually getting the raise you desperately deserve?

Well, there is a better way. It’s called reasoning with empathy, and it’s one of the principles of influence I break down in my new book, EQ Applied: The Real-World Guide to Emotional Intelligence.

An approach based on reason is sound, fair, and sensible. The problem is, what one person considers sound, fair, and sensible is much different from someone else’s assessment–in this case, your boss’s idea of what kind of salary you should be taking home vs. your own.

But that’s why empathy is so important: It allows you to reason from the other person’s point of view.

Seek the common ground

When attempting to persuade or convince, it’s important to first find something upon which you both agree. It helps to view your counterpart as a partner or ally instead of an enemy. 

“Effective persuaders must be adept at describing their positions in terms that illuminate their advantages,” explains esteemed business professor Jay Conger, author of The Necessary Art of Persuasion.“As any parent can tell you, the fastest way to get a child to come along willingly on a trip to the grocery store is to point out there are lollipops by the cash register… In [other] situations, persuasive framing is obviously more complex, but the underlying principle is the same. It is a process of identifying shared benefits.” 

When choosing how to frame your reasoning it’s critical that you first understand your audience. Of course, you need to know which issues are important to them, but it’s just as vital that you understand why those issues are important. If you fail here, your efforts to convince may be misdirected. 

Therefore, finding a common ground means doing some homework: conversing with your audience–in this case, your supervisor or other decision makers–along with those close to them. Listen closely to their input.

“Those steps help [the best persuaders] think through the arguments, the evidence, and the perspectives they will present,” explains Conger. “Oftentimes, this process causes them to alter or compromise their own plans before they even start persuading. It is through this thoughtful, inquisitive approach they develop frames that appeal to their audience.” 

So, how do you apply these lessons when asking for a raise?

Well, you could go in with guns blazing, detailing your longtime service to the company, your special skill set, and your list of accomplishments. In your mind, this is an extremely convincing argument. 

Unbeknownst to you, however, your supervisor is under fire for being over budget and is willing to do anything to solve this problem–even downsize the team. Sensing your dissatisfaction with the current situation, they may decide the easiest option is to cut you. 

But what if you focused first on getting to know your supervisor’s needs? By doing your research, you find out their current priorities. You understand that if you can help them get the department under budget, you’re in a much better position to ask for a raise. 

So, to sum it up:

1. Get to know your boss’s needs, wants, and problems

2. Make sure to understand why those things are important to them

3. Brainstorm viable solutions 

4. When presenting your case for a raise, outline how you can help

This is reasoning with empathy. It promotes active listening and gives your boss something to think about, even after the conversation is over. It helps pave the way for future discussion, increasing your potential to influence over the long run. 

Most importantly, this empathetic approach helps you frame your reasoning around your supervisor’s priorities, allowing you to brainstorm concrete solutions to their most important problem, which further increases your value in their eyes…

And increases the chance of you getting paid, too. 

Enjoy this post? Check out my book, EQ Applied, which uses fascinating research and compelling stories to illustrate what emotional intelligence looks like in everyday life.

A version of this article originally appeared on