person thinking

“I wonder what Michael is earning…” I used to think to myself, while sitting in my cubicle, getting increasingly frustrated about the fact he was strolling in late—again.

Michael was a couple of years older than I was, and we had the same sales title at a recruitment firm in Sydney, Australia. He had worked there a little longer than me, and something in my bones just knew he received a much higher salary. I resented him for it, and then resented myself for resenting him.

Sure Michael was definitely earning more than me—but who was responsible for that? He was. And whose fault was it that I was being underpaid? I was. The joke was on me. I had to take responsibility for my income and be able to ask for what I believed I deserved.

If you bring your A-game to the office every day, know that you provide huge value with the work that you do, and want to see your efforts better reflected in your bank account, you’re reading the right piece. There is major evidence that those of us who don’t consistently negotiate our salary leave millions of dollars on the table over the course of our career. In Women Don’t Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation—and Positive Strategies for Change, Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever state, “Women who consistently negotiate their salary have increased earnings of at least $1 million more during their careers than women who don’t.”

Let that sink in for a second. And then remember, that’s just the money. There are loads of others benefits you’re missing out on when you’re not speaking up for yourself.

So, if money’s not enough to motivate you to have that conversation (and yes, I know it’s hard), here are five other key reasons to ask for a raise when you feel it’s deserved.

1. It Gives Your Self-Esteem a Required Boost

It’s easy to feel stuck and powerless when you’re silent. Your voice matters, and when you don’t use it, you end up feeling pretty awful. So do your own ego (or lack thereof) a favor and reach out for that meeting. By just sending that email to your boss, you’re telling yourself that you’re worth taking the time to talk to. Not to mention that simply preparing for the conversation (a.k.a., writing down why you deserve a raise) does wonders to remind you just how good you are at what you do.

2. It Reminds Your Boss How Hard You Work

Just by drawing attention to the quality of your work allows your input to be more noticeable—and your time, talent, and skills more appreciated. You spend a lot of hours in that office, and as much as you hope your manager notices it, making this ask gives you the chance to make sure it’s clear. Sitting down for a serious chat and laying out your recent accomplishments reminds him or her why you’re an incredibly valuable asset. One who would be really bad to lose to a more competitive offer down the line.

3. It’ll Start Career Acceleration Talks

People who ask for what they want have more opportunities to discuss promotion opportunities and career progression planning. This conversation opens up a dialogue that may not otherwise take place—especially if you’re working on a larger team and your boss isn’t aware of your ultimate career goals. Asserting yourself instantly highlights your leadership qualities: You’re someone who knows what he or she wants and will take the appropriate steps to get there. So, while a promotion might not be on the table now, you’re putting yourself in the running the next time an opportunity opens up.

4. It Builds Up Your Confidence

Fear thrives in your silence, and anxieties build up when you put off something that you need to do. In my current profession as a coach, I speak a lot about the confidence-competence loop. The more you do something, the more confident you become in it, and then the more you continue to do it (more competently each time). It’s an awesome cycle. Asking builds your confidence, which then leads you to greater things that can make you satisfied. That means that even if you get a big, fat “no,” you’ll still have gained something valuable from the process.

5. It Can Give You the Reality Check You Need

Remember Michael? Well, if you have your own in your office, you can spend time complaining—or take action, ask for a raise, and find out if you’re valued. Either you’ll get it (or get a good reason why it’s not an option now), or you’ll realize you’re at a company where the Michaels get rewarded—and you get shafted. You can spend far too long in the wrong job thinking conditions will improve, even when it’s clear they might never do so. Better to know sooner what potential exists where you are.

So now, I leave you with a question: What’s the real cost here for you, if you don’t ask this year? It’s a lot more than money, isn’t it?

Updated 6/19/2020