Mark Ford

From Mark Ford, editor, Creating Wealth: Over the years, I’ve had the awkward duty of declining raises to dozens of employees.

Most of them simply sulked and disappeared. But, a few of them took the experience as a wake-up call and fought back.

They didn’t see themselves as losers, and they weren’t going to let me view them that way, either.

If you get turned down for a raise, arguing with your boss won’t do you any good.

But if you can take advantage of the situation by following the suggestions listed here, you may be surprised at how dramatically you can improve your future income.

1. Thank your boss.

Yes, thank him or her. If you didn’t get the raise you wanted, there is a very good chance it’s because you didn’t deserve it. If you are like most people, this idea is going to be very hard to try on.

But, if you spend some time thinking very objectively about your performance—asking yourself questions such as, “Was I always early?,” and, “Did I stay late?,” and, “Was I always eager and energetic and helpful?”—you will probably come to see your performance for what it was: less than stellar.

If you thank your boss for making you see the light, you’ll shock him or her into paying attention to you. If you follow that up with some kind of modest pledge to do better, your boss will be watching for you to do so.

2. Come in earlier.

There is no more impressive way to show you are serious about your work than to get in earlier than you have been. A half-hour is enough. If you can, get in before your boss does. Get in earlier, and make sure your boss knows it.

3. Work harder.

However hard you’ve been working so far, it hasn’t been enough to establish you as the No. 1 worker in your department. Getting in earlier and then paying complete and serious attention to your work will demonstrate your intent.

As time goes by, the extra time and energy you give your job will show up in higher-level skills, better knowledge, and—most probably—more money.

4. Get more training.

Take every chance you get to become better educated about your job. Take advantage of whatever programs your company offers.

If something comes up, and your company doesn’t want to pay for it, pay for it yourself. (As with working harder, you don’t want to let your extra training go unnoticed.)

5. Help your boss plan your future.

After a few weeks as the “new” you, ask for an appointment with your boss. He or she may be afraid you are going to ask for a raise. Assure your boss nothing is further from your mind.

When you get your boss alone, reconfirm your gratitude for the wake-up call, brief him or her on the changes and improvements you’ve made, and then ask what else he or she thinks you can do to move forward even faster.

Don’t ask for anything in return. Make it seem as if job satisfaction is your only interest.

This is a radical approach.

Ninety-five percent of people who read this will never give it a try. You may be the exception. If you are, you will see dramatic results.

Your income will improve in six months or less—and it will keep improving thereafter.

Before you know it, you’ll be at a whole new level. Just as important—or maybe more important—your job satisfaction will skyrocket.

You’ll like your job better because you’ll be better at it—and everyone around you will take notice, including your boss.