How high can you go?

If you feel uncomfortable asking for more, this phrase is for you:

How high can you go?

Saying these five words won’t make you any less uncomfortable, but it will help you explore what’s possible.

Suppose you are negotiating an offer, and the person you’re speaking with says they can’t go as high as what you’ve asked for.

Your response: how high can you go?

You don’t need to be cagey about your interest in the job or company — people love positivity and interest — but you also don’t need to be coy about wanting information.

Both of you want to find an agreement that you are both happy with. If you agree with everything they say, you are doing yourself a disservice, and ultimately the company once you realize you’re in an unhealthy relationship and find a better opportunity elsewhere.

Instead, by politely and firmly exploring the situation with your counterpart, you will together find something much more robust that you can truly feel good about. Even if it’s not what you want, you’ll know that it is the best offer you could have received from this particular company.

So ask questions! How high can you go? Is there any way to increase this amount? Are there additional skills or responsibilities that I could bring to this company that we have not considered yet? Is there someone else who could help us authorize this change?

If you feel uncomfortable asking blunt questions, don’t try to explain or justify why you want more money. Your situation is not your company’s business, nor is it guaranteed to convince them to pay you more.

Instead, be honest about what is important to you: information and context. No one is going to argue with you about your interests or beliefs. In fact, the person you’re negotiating with will be happy to know what you care about so they can figure out how to move forward.

Next time you hear “we can’t do that” I dare you to ask “what can you do?” That way when a recruiter tells you “we can’t go that high” you can calmly ask “how high can you go?”

Don’t leave me hanging, y’all! Tell me how it goes.