As my six-month probationary review inched closer slowly, I shuddered to think how I would negotiate for higher pay. I was a newbie to this. I’d been an intern for over a year and had never gotten the chance to ask for higher pay, let alone, any pay. But now, I’m transitioning into the position of a full-time employee, and I’m at a crossroads.

Do I just accept what they offer me for fear of being let go, or do I take my chances and negotiate to see where it takes me?

Typically, I’d heard women say that they weren’t in a position to demand an increase, as they were grateful to be offered the job itself. That made me wonder why we shouldn’t ask for something we deserve.

Shouldn’t we be worthy of what we rightfully deserve, irrespective of our social background?

When I asked around the office, some people scoffed and said that it was a big deal that I was even offered a job, because I was a woman and it was a privilege, and that I should just take what they give me and be “grateful.”

The others said that I should possibly give it a shot, but it may not be very fruitful.

I approached a fellow female employee who’d undergone the same process a few months ago, but she politely declined by saying that it was private. Really? Way to help another woman in distress.

Pro-tip: If a fellow female employee asks for help, you help her, no matter what.

Distraught, I sought the help of the internet.

I read a few articles about how I’d need to wait for the contract until I negotiated anything at all. This made sense. I also read that in order to demand anything at all, I’d have to explain to my employer why I needed it. If I had a family to support or a huge education to pay off, I’d have a better chance of getting that raise. On the other hand, if I was married and had a husband to fall back on, I’d have a lower chance of getting it.

At first thought, this made sense to me.

Explaining your financial situation to your employer seems like they’d be pitied into giving me that raise. But, why do we have to give an excuse for what we deserve? If I’ve worked hard and am a viable resource for them, I would only have to tell them that I’m indispensable and they’d need me, not explain my whole financial situation.

I wondered if men were told to make excuses in order to get a raise. I think not. I’m sure that they’d just waltz right into their boss’ office and tell them that they deserved the raise for the good work they did.

After all my research, this is the ultimate low-down on what you need to do:

  1. Wait for your contract/offer letter. Don’t negotiate before you get it. It just comes off as unprofessional.
  2. Once you’ve gotten it, set up a meeting with your boss, via email. (Be as professional as you can, ladies.)
  3. At the meeting, stand your ground. If you’re asked about your family or financial situation, brush it off, and list your skills and capabilities, because that’s what matters.
  4. Convince your boss that you’re worth that raise because you’re essential to the company.
  5. If he/she is open-minded enough, they’ll appreciate that you know your worth and that you aren’t using an ulterior motive.

I decided to swallow my pride and approach my boss about it one day.

I told him that I’d worked hard the past few months, and achieved all the tasks I was given; and that I need a raise to be able to support myself well. He listened patiently and said that he agreed, and would give it some thought.

Although, I’m still not sure about the outcome of my ballsy move, at least I won’t regret never trying.

We’re so conditioned to just accept what we’re given graciously, instead of asking for what we rightly deserve. It’s time we asked; because if we didn’t, we’ll have to live with this burning regret for the rest of our lives that we didn’t even attempt to negotiate.

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  • Dyuthi Prakash is an architect by day, and a writer by night. She dabbles in feminism, social justice and womens’ rights. She hopes that one day, her words will slowly, but surely bring change.