Managing Perceptions When Asking for a Raise

Psychology is at the core of sales and marketing strategies in the western world. Much of the foundation for our current approach to marketing products, services and ideas – ranging from cars to politics – was originated by Edward Bernays, considered to be the father of modern public relations. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise that his “create a need, then fill the demand” was underpinned by psychology. Bernays was after all the nephew of Sigmund Freud . Understanding the human psyche and how we perceive information and reach that “buy-in” stage has made many a company wealthy since Bernays first used psychology to link cigarettes with liberation in the minds of women.  Bernays said, those  “who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses … pull the wires which control the public mind.”

Our approach in the career industry is very similar, in that we are controlling the information to manage perception and sell a candidate.

Now a professor at Columbia Business School who teaches a course on managerial negotiations says that using psychology can be beneficial when negotiating a higher salary. A study suggests that candidates who ask for a precise amount, say $125, 205, as opposed to $125,000, are more likely to receive a higher counter offer. This monetary precision lends the impression that the candidate has thoroughly researched the market salaries for the position in his/her geography, rather than an arbitrary number. Perception management!