I’m terrible at negotiating in person. In employee/employer reviews, it feels so awkward to me to talk about myself or my performance, and I end up just accepting what I’m told as a raise without a push back at all.

Then 5 minutes later I think of all the arguments that I could have brought up to counter offer and I end up resenting my job. This time after the review, I asked for a counter offer via email. Which worked as a first step but I’m expecting my boss to give his answer in person.

Is it ok to keep the back and forth negotiation over email? Or is it an obvious sign of weakness or is considered unprofessional?

  • 1
    Have you considered writing the email before the performance review? Even if you don't actually send it, might help you a lot.
    – Mefitico
    Mar 29, 2019 at 16:38
  • @JoeStrazzere Well if he says let's discuss now I won't say no. But before accepting his offer, I'd say something like may I take some time to think about it, and then write you back? If he says no then I guess that's a no.
    – itsaMe
    Mar 29, 2019 at 16:39
  • @Mefitico That's a good idea. I may do that next time. It was the first time that I've written such an email and was just a couple of days after the review.
    – itsaMe
    Mar 29, 2019 at 16:42

6 Answers 6


Coming from an extreme non-talker (myself), sometimes it makes a huge difference if before a meeting or discussion, you write down in a notepad what you want to say to the other person. You can even write an email (don't send it) and write as though you will send this email to the concerned person. And then don't send that email, but you will now get clear points which you want to discuss and during discussion, these points may come naturally to you. Some people, like me are not really street smart or have "tit for tat" skills (if that's even a term). Judging from the question you wrote, you don't have problems in communicating information to people but you may have problems in coming up with things to talk in snap during discussions, if you are like me. No judgement though, I might be completely wrong (just a random guy from the internet) :)

  • Thanks. That's what I'll do. I prepared an email and will not send it and will try to say what I wrote in person.
    – itsaMe
    Mar 30, 2019 at 14:06

Within a business, there are a large variety of different ways communication can occur, each with their pros and cons.

Written communication is great if you need a clear and permanent record of a decision, correspondence or documentation. However, it is cumbersome because what can be done in a 10 minute conversation can take hours of written communication.

Unless your boss is not very busy, he will likely not have the time to engage in written correspondence with you on this.

What your boss would most likely accept is a single letter detailing all the points that you wish to raise, followed by a meeting to discuss the points. You can also prepare a list of talking points to take into a meeting if that will help you stay on track.

You can try to make it occur via written communication, but at some point in time they are likely to go: "Let's continue this in person."

You need to be quite realistic about this whole process. Unless you're changing role, or your responsibilities have grown, or will grow, it is highly unlikely there is much room to move.

You also have to keep in mind what the default position is. Unlike a job offer, a salary renegotiation has a different status quo. If no agreement is reached, the default position is no change to your salary. Unless you are willing to walk away from the job, you don't have a great deal of negotiating power. With a lack of negotiating power, it's unlikely that your boss will have a great deal of tolerance for a long drawn out negotiation.

If you're going to go back and fourth arguing over every point raised, your boss is probably more likely to say: "I have made my decision, that's final."


So as others have stated, you can negotiate via email, although it will appear weak. However:

I’m terrible at negotiating in person.

You need to address the root cause of the issue. There are probably decades ahead of you in your career, and the sooner you address being able to negotiate face-to-face, the better.

There are some classic business books on negotiating (There is a long list, obvious readings are Getting to Yes, or less so, How to win Friends and Influence People) and those are worth reading, but it is good to practice negotiating in person. Find someone to play your boss; Odds are good that someone you know wants to practice as well. Walk into a car dealership, and with no intent on buying a new car, start negotiating. (At the end of the car negotiation, the salesperson will think that your "walkaway" is part of the negotiation. It's how they are wired.)

So go and negotiate face-to-face, and try to practice some before you get there. You will likely not be satisfied with the outcome, but you will get better the more you do it.

Good luck to you.


You don't need to negotiate by email, you just need to take a little time.

Doing all negotiations by email is unpopular because it takes a lot of time. There can often be lots of back and forth, and if every iteration takes a few hours the time can drag on.

So you best way to do this is to talk about your raise in person, but never commit in a meeting.

So ideally you should have a very good idea of what you want, and what your arguments are for getting it, Make sure you know these when you go to the meeting. Use them when necessary.

However the important thing is, when you run out of reasons and the amount isn't what you decided you wanted, say you need some to think it over. Give them an amount of time if they want. A day is usually fine, a few hours should give you the time to come up with the arguments you thought you had.


Yes it's okay to negotiate salary via email. But mostly people like to discuss this in person or via call. In that case you never have to accept if you are not comfortable. Just say you need time to think and write all the points which you missed and ask for another meeting or mail them.

Most employers don't directly say no if they wan't to reject you if you ask for more compensation than their budget. They will ask for more time to evaluate. Similarly you also have the right to take some time and evaluate after all it's an important decision. Also ask for the time frame in which you can respond and don't take too long.

  • 1
    I've never discussed salary/raises by email. Trying to exception process in this manner would be really weird. A manager simply doesn't have the time to go back and forth like that.
    – MaxW
    Mar 29, 2019 at 17:54

It's okay to negotiate this by mail, but it's much more convincing if you try it personally or via a call. Words are a strong weapon, when companies choose a candidate it's probably because he conviced them better than you and not because their skills are better.

You can send an email but then negotiations will be late, because you will send an email, and of course the reply won't be immediatly a positive one, so you should then send another one ... and it will be a long chain of mails, BUT you are losing the power of your voice and expressions which can really make a great difference

Good luck

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