How to Behave After Not Getting a Raise or Promotion

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Welcome to the People-First Culture Podcast with me, Michel Falcon, where I share lessons I’ve learned and those of others on how to build a more purposeful business and career.

Hey everyone, and welcome to the People-First Culture Podcast with me, Michel Falcon. As always, if you have listened to an episode before, thank you so much for your time, your attention. It is very flattering that anybody cares to hear anything that I have to share. Everything that I share is tried, tested and true. These are lessons from my career. I would never recommend anything that I don’t have personal success with or failure, for that matter.

If you are new to the podcast, welcome. I talk about things related to people. Now, that might sound like a really broad subject, which it is. Anything related to your business or your career that involves company culture, customer experience, employee engagement, employee performance, and developing an awesome career is why you might come to this podcast and listen to an episode or to two.

A few weeks ago, I released an episode on how to properly ask for a raise. And my argument was nobody’s ever taught us how to ask for a raise. And I shared some lessons that I’ve learned on how to ask for a raise. And I’ve seen it from both sides. I have been the team member that’s asked for a raise and been told no, and I have been the manager who has received an ask from somebody. And in many cases, sometimes it’s yes, sometimes it’s no.

One thing that I know really well is that there is a certain way to behave after being told no. And let’s call it what it is. It’s discouraging when you hear no because, from your perspective, you may be delivering results, performing really well, and maybe you’ve told yourself, “I’m going to get that raise.” And for one reason or another, you hear no. I can tell you firsthand that if you don’t manage yourself well after hearing no, you’re really going to fracture the relationship that you have with your manager. With that being said, the manager must say no with tact. And they must be prepared for how you are going to present yourself after hearing no.

Here are five things that you can do after you’ve been told no for a raise that you’ve asked for, or a promotion. The first thing that you have to do is watch your body language. You’re naturally going to want to sulk, be upset, maybe even angry, and that’s going to come across in your body language, which may be defensive. I am not a breathing expert, I am not a posture coach, but one thing that I know when I’m exhibiting perhaps poor body language that maybe to some individual might be off-putting, compose yourself through breathing. If you know that you don’t like what you just heard and your body language may reflect that, take a couple breaths. That’s the first thing.

The second thing you must do after hearing no after asking for a raise or a promotion is diplomatically ask why. And careful with your language. You don’t want to say, “Why?” abruptly with an exclamation point. You may say, “Jonathan, may I understand why you’re saying no?” If you have the proper body language, the verbal communication would be received well.

The third, after listening why the manager explained their answer, you’re going to ask this word for word. “What would I need to exhibit to you over what period of time to earn the promotion?” You are asking them what and when. Now, I recognize this, not everybody is a great manager. The person that says no might not have that definitive answer. They may immediately be saying no because it’s just not in the budget, and they may genuinely not have an answer on the second W of that, when. Temember, “What would I need to exhibit to you over what period of time to earn the promotion?” You’re asking, “What do I need to get better at? And when may I be able to ask again?” They may know the what, but they may not know the when. But ask that question and see how they respond. I would receive that very well. It shows that you’re very organized, it shows that you’re ambitious, and it shows that you’re willing to improve on yourself.

Once you’ve captured what has been said to you, the fourth step after this conversation is follow up with an email. I’m thinking on my feet right now, but what you could perhaps say is, “Hi Jonathan, although I didn’t receive the answer I was hoping for, thank you for having the conversation with me and listening. I appreciated that you told me that I need to work on X, Y, and Z, and perhaps there may be an opportunity within four months for us to have this conversation again. Thank you Conley for your leadership. Michel Falcon.” Something like this. Have a record of this conversation.

And then lastly is the fifth step, get to work. I know you may be thinking, well, I have been working. I believe I’ve earned this promotion. And you very well could have, but maybe the company’s not in the financial position to be able to provide raises because of the recession barreling down on us, for whatever reason. But get back to work.

I am reminded of a phenomenal quote from the comedian, Steve Martin. It’s one sentence within a larger message that he shared. He was being interviewed in 60 Minutes or one of those shows, and he said, “To be a great comedian, be so good that they can’t ignore you.” They can be whichever audience you want, just be so good that they can’t ignore you. And that’s my message with step five: Get back to work. It’s almost like you want to make your leader fearful of what would happen if Samantha left. We can’t have Samantha leave.

There’s a Richard Branson quote that goes like this: “Train people well enough so that they can leave, treat them well enough so that they don’t want to.” And you have a role in that. You have the opportunity to be a shining star within your organization, within your department. And be so good that they can’t ignore you. Just don’t shoot yourself in the foot by behaving poorly after you get told no after asking for a raise or a promotion.

One thing that I want everybody that I work with to do is make as much income as possible and be content with how they’re earning their income. Often being content with ambitious people is because that they’re learning as well. And be a part of that. I can tell you that having a team of ambitious people that want to grow and earn great income is very motivating to many leaders. And that is how you can differentiate yourself from others.

This was just a quick message, a message under 10 minutes that you can apply. And I hope you’re going to be asking for a raise within the next 30 to 90 days. I’m sure you’re working really diligently. And you should ask for that raise. And if you haven’t listened to that episode where I walk you through how to ask for a raise, please go ahead and look through my episodes and have a listen.

And if there’s anybody that you think would value from this podcast, please share a link to whichever platform, whether it’s Apple Podcast, Spotify, or whichever that you listen to. Please send them a link to this podcast. And if your organization is ever looking for a keynote speaker for their event, you know who to reach out to. My website is my first and last, Thank you so much for listening. Again, I am extraordinarily gracious that anybody even listens to 30 seconds of any episode. Thank you so much. And I hope to be able to share a message with you again.




Michel travels the world speaking at annual conferences and company events. His speaking topics are focused on customer experience, employee engagement and company culture. To have him speak at your event, contact him directly.