There’s nothing more nerve-wracking than trying to figure out how to ask for a raise, even if you’re certain you deserve it. If you Google it, there are some good articles on how to do it, but not much on when to do it. It’s aggravating to think that you might just catch your boss at a bad time, and that if you’d chosen a different time of day or week, you might have had better results. There may be some times of the day, week, and month that are better than others. Of course, it also has to do with your boss’s – and your own – psychological rhythms. While there’s no cut-and-dry advice for every situation and every boss, there are some good rules of thumb for choosing a time. Below is some advice from people who are pros at deconstructing person-to-person interactions: Psychologists.
Do not ask on a Monday
This is a no-brainer, but Mondays tend not to be the most chipper days around the office. They can be downright grim. Shannon Kolakowski, PsyD, a psychologist in Seattle, says, “Steer clear of Mondays, which are notorious for producing negative, tense moods.” Your instinct may be to wait till mid- or late-week to broach the subject, and that’s probably smart.
People may be more moral in the mornings
There’s not a lot of research on schmoozing your boss, but we can apply findings from other areas of psychology to office dynamics. Kolakowski points out that your boss might be more moral in the morning, so early on in the day could be the best time to talk about a raise. “One study showed what is called the morning morality effect; people tend to have higher levels of moral awareness in the morning and make less ethical decisions as the day wears on. In order to get a well-deserved raise, it may make sense to take advantage of your boss’s morning morality (after the coffee, of course).”
Wait till she’s caffeinated (or libated)
This is a good point – though morning may be a good idea, don’t ask too early. Even if you and your boss are the only people in the office, wait till your boss is fully caffeinated and has gotten any routine early morning stuff out of the way, before you ask to talk.
Of course, if your boss is one for having a martini at lunch, take advantage of it. “The simplistic approach is this,” says Michael Grove, PhD, psychotherapist and executive coach in New York City. “Does your boss have a drink or two at lunch? Definitely don’t get in the way of him and his drink. Go attack him after that!”
Fridays may be the best bet
Assuming your superior doesn’t have one foot out the door for a weekend getaway, the middle of a Friday morning might be smart, since there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. “Obviously I have no research to back this up,” says Suzanne Roff-Wexler, PhD, psychologist and founder of CompassPoint Consulting. “But my intuitive preference when to ask for a raise would be on a Friday mid-morning. The person I would ask would probably be looking forward to a weekend (hopefully in a good mood)!” She adds not to wait till Friday afternoon, since it may make you seem less confident, and the boss may be mentally hightailing out of the office already. So do it mid-morning. “If turned down, I would be prepared to deal with the rest of the day and then take the weekend to accept the decision and think about my next strategy,” says Roff-Wexler. “If the raise is accepted, then I would have the weekend to celebrate or at least enjoy the recognition.”
In certain industries, afternoons may make a more relaxed boss
There’s a caveat to the mid-morning theory: For certain businesses, afternoons may be better, says Grove, since there may just be too much going on during certain hours (like when the stock market is open). If the day was a particularly productive one, you have a boss in a good – or potentially great – mood near the end of the day: “Some bosses, like Wall Street people…. They have one eye on ticker or screen all the time. When it’s over, and it’s a good day, that’s when to ask. When a unit of work is done. So here, I’m favoring the end of the day (except on summery day. Then they’re trying to get to Hamptons).”
Get in sync with your boss’ ups, downs, and personal style
“There are two kinds of bosses: those who are seduced into things, and those who are coerced into things,” says Grove. “For the ‘seduced’ group, catch them when they’re at their most relaxed, when they’re off guard… Say, ‘look what we just didn’t do as a team – and look what I can do to correct this in the future.’” Woo him with your vision of what you’ll bring in the future. But if he’s a numbers person, make your case that way, and let the numbers do the coercing.
And always be aware of your boss’ personal patterns and habits. ”Notice when your boss is most engaged and chatty with you,” says Kolakowski. “Is he a morning person, bouncing with ideas first thing? Or does she pick up steam as the day goes on? Think back to the most productive conversations you’ve had and figure out what time of day they occurred. Mimicking successful interactions is a good way to gauge what time of day to ask for a raise.” If your boss is notoriously crabby or stressed up until lunch then, the stay away from that. Let his or her daily patterns guide you.
Think of his/her workload
Regardless of whether your boss is a morning or evening person, his or her workload can trump that. Know when your boss is finishing up a project or has a light workday – or on the flipside, if she’s just starting a project or has meetings with her own higher-ups. “The best day of the week depends on your boss’ personal schedule,” says Kolakowski. “Is there a certain day of the week you typically meet, when you know you will have his full attention? Be aware of his busy periods; avoid asking for a raise in the midst of other high priority projects, when his mind may be elsewhere and stress levels are high.”
Grove agrees that waiting till the end of a big project is essential. “Again, do it when a unit of work is done. In law, it will be when a case is done. In journalism, it will be when a magazine issue closes.” Other industries will have other ebbs and flows, so be sure to plan your pitch accordingly.
Your own headspace may matter even more
“The most important thing that I can say is that if you think you should ask for a raise, then you have almost certainly earned it (and likely more) and must do it,” says New York City psychologist and author of Your Next Big Thing, Ben Michaelis, PhD. “Therefore, what matters is not so much external factors (i.e., time of day, day of week, etc.) but your internal state. The time that is easiest for you to get up the nerve to ask IS the right time.”
How do you get in the right mental place? Think first about the bigger picture: Conjure up and internalize all the reasons why you feel a raise is logical and deserved at this point in time (you’ll likely have done this in preparation for making your “case” to your boss anyway, but go over all the reasons again, to convince yourself completely, too). And in a more immediate way, center and energize yourself before you meet with your boss, with whatever method works for you – calling a loved one, listening to a favorite song for mojo, or meditating.
Asking for a raise is probably less of a big deal for the more outgoing and confident among us. But it can be especially hard for those who are highly sensitive, less confident or more introverted, since it brings up a lot of “issues” we may have about ourselves and our roles in the work world. “Asking for a raise is very hard for many of us,” says Michaelis, “especially highly sensitive people (HSPs), because it calls to mind questions of self-worth, potential conflict and fear of rejection.” Figuring out how and when to ask your boss is important, for sure – the consensus seems to be to do it after morning coffee but before lunchtime on a Friday. But convincing yourself that you deserve it might even be the bigger step.
This article was originally published on Forbes