I received an email from a Hormonology reader who asks:
“When would be the best time in my cycle to ask my employer for a raise? I tend to feel very vulnerable and unconfident when I have to do these kinds of awkward conversations, so I’d like to have some hormone help to give me a boost.”
This is an especially timely question to ask because I recently requested a raise from my own boss–and, naturally, I timed my request around my monthly cycle.
Here’s how I suggest timing your own request for a bump in pay or a promotion around your monthly cycle. First ask yourself:
“Do I need a boost in confidence?”
If your main concern is that you lack the confidence to ask for a raise or promotion or you dread having to deal with the awkwardness of that kind of conversation, then approach your supervisor at some point between the second half of your Week 1 (Day 4 of your cycle) and the end of your Week 2 (your ovulation day). On these days, your rising estrogen is triggering a higher output of mood-elevating brain chemicals that result in more confidence, optimism and courage that make these kinds of requests to your boss just a bit easier.
You also get a few extra hormonal bonuses on these cycle days: Your rising estrogen is making you more verbally eloquent. Plus, it’s sharpening your memory and boosting mental energy, which helps you remember all the reasons you deserve to get your request fulfilled. If your meeting is in person or via video chat, research shows this elevated hormone also helps you more accurately figure out what a person is thinking by looking at his or her facial expressions. This means you can tell when your pitch isn’t working, so you should change tactics, and when your pitch is working, so you should continue down that road.
However, there are a couple of obstacles you may need to overcome on these cycle days: One is that high estrogen can make you talk more quickly as you speak. So, try to slow down and pace yourself.
Another obstacle is that high estrogen can prompt anxiety by ramping up arousal in your brain. Which means you need to ask yourself another question….
“Do I get stressed easily?”
I don’t know about you, but when I experience a high amount of sudden stress (like when taking an important test, getting dental surgery or asking for a raise), I get a tremendous surge of adrenaline that I have trouble tamping down. I’ve tried keeping it check with meditation, yoga, cognitive behavioral therapy, exercise, chamomile, drinking lots of water, slow breathing, you name it. But, it’s just a biological quirk I have to deal with. As a result, when I get hit with sudden stress, my over-the-top adrenaline production makes my voice shaky, I stumble over my words and my memory gets blotted out. No exaggeration, I’ve even forgotten my own phone number at times.
So, I know that when I want to do something that’s going to be stressful, the best time for me to do it is during my Week 3, which is the week right after ovulation. On these cycle days, lower estrogen combined with sedating progesterone will keep me as mellow as I can be. Oh, my hormones won’t turn me into a Zen monk who can peacefully ommm my way through whatever tense situation I’m facing. However, I do manage to keep my composure and am actually a better speaker than if I faced the same high-stress situation on a Week 2 day. And that, in turn, boosts my confidence.
So, if you’re anything like me and tend to get more anxious than others and your main concern about asking for a raise or promotion is coming off as composed and sharp despite a heightened stress response, I would suggest you also opt for a Week 3 day in your cycle to make your request.
However, I would also recommend that you write down the key points you want to say and practice saying them before you approach your supervisor. That’s because rising progesterone on these can interfere with verbal fluency and ding your short-term memory. But, with a bit of rehearsal, you can overcome these hormonal challenges.