How to Win in Business

These 2 simple language tricks could help you get a raise

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Asking for a raise can be one of the most uncomfortable situations in a person's career.

Many professionals are afraid that they'll come across as greedy or too aggressive, according to Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Margaret Neale, who specializes in negotiation.

That worry is especially fierce among women, who are more likely to face negative backlash for asking for a raise than men.

"Folks typically see negotiation as an adversarial process," Neale says in a video posted on

That's a mistake.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and author of "Lean In."
David A. Grogan | CNBC

Research shows that a small language trick can help you become a more successful negotiator, whether you're asking for more money or discussing the terms of a new job. The key is to make your salary negotiation a conversation about problem solving, says Neale.

"Problem solving is collaborative," she says, and that helps win people over.

To make negotiation more collaborative, consider a few strategies Sandberg discusses in the book "Lean In," and on the organization's website:

1. Pay attention to pronouns

"As silly as it sounds, pronouns matter," Sandberg writes.

The executive recommends professionals say terms such as "We had a great year," instead of "I had a great year."

Professor Hannah Riley Bowles, who studies gender and negotiations at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, says that to negotiate successfully, women have to "come across as being nice" and be "concerned about others."

Speaking about "our goals" and "our progress" will help a female professional get ahead.

2. Emphasize your shared goals

Discuss the common goals and interests you, your boss and your team have, Sandberg and Neale suggest. This shows that you are committed to your company, in addition to your own career.

Neale recommends saying the following statement toward the beginning of your negotiation: "How can we talk about crafting an outcome to make it work for us?"

Practice your salary ask several times using this collaborative approach, and you'll be much better positioned for success.

Check out the biggest mistake most professionals make when asking for a raise

The most common negotiating mistake that workers make