Pro tip: 3 salary negotiation mistakes people make

Negotiating doesn’t have to be scary or hard. No one will advocate for you in the same way you can advocate for yourself.

Getty Images

Negotiation is like the ugly stepsister of networking — it’s something we need to know how to do, yet it’s not something we are ever taught in school.

But unlike networking, making a big “no-no” during a salary negotiation won’t just cost you a relationship, it may result in thousands of dollars being left on the table.


Follow Ladders on Flipboard!

Follow Ladders’ magazines on Flipboard covering Happiness, Productivity, Job Satisfaction, Neuroscience, and more!


So what exactly do you need to know when it comes to making the big ask? Here are the top three things to avoid doing in your next negotiation.

1) Getting defensive

Let’s say you have taken on more responsibilities and put in way more overtime than your peers this past year. However, during your performance review, your boss informs you that you will only be getting the standard 3 percent raise due to budget constraints.

In the heat of the moment, your heart rate will naturally jump through the roof in frustration.

What to do instead

Instead of snapping back with how unfair this is, take a nice deep breath and allow for silence.  Slowing the conversation down rather than jumping into a response will create space for you to be thoughtful in your answer rather than reactive.

2) Giving in too quickly

Now that you’ve given yourself a moment to breathe, you can start to prepare your response.

While it’s natural to worry what will happen if you ask for more, don’t let fear of rejection keep you from getting what you deserve.

I’m here to tell you that negotiation is a normal and expected part of working. While your boss may secretly be hoping you don’t push back, they won’t become offended when you do (and if they do, it may be an important red flag to take note of).

What to do instead

Instead of quickly giving in, restate your value and get their buy-in. For example, “I understand that constraints in the budget must be difficult. However, the amount of hours and effort I have been putting in for the company goes well beyond the standard expectations and performance, wouldn’t you say?”

3) Not anchoring high enough

Lastly, when discussing pay, it’s natural to worry that if you go too high you will either offend the other party, lose the position, or come across as greedy.

However, you shouldn’t lower your expectations in order to come across as more agreeable.  By starting with a “safer” sounding number you are doing the work for them, and negotiating against yourself before the conversation has even begun.

What to do instead

Focus on the facts and then aim high.

Do your research and get clear on a salary range that is both fair and reasonable. Next, instead of lowering your standards in order to come across as more agreeable, start at the top of the range.

For the example above, if a 3-8 percent raise is reasonable, don’t lower your expectations to a safer sounding 5 percent. Instead, anchor high and say, “I was really hoping that given the results I’ve produced in the past year, that I would get at least an 8 percent increase. Do you think that’s something we could work toward?”

Interestingly enough, by anchoring higher, you actually give your boss the psychological feeling that they just got a “deal.” Let them feel the sweet pleasure of a deal, while you allow yourself the sweet reward of a higher paycheck!

Negotiating doesn’t have to be scary or hard. No one will advocate for you in the same way you can advocate for yourself. You are in control of your financial well-being, and you know the value that you create. Now, share it with the world! And most importantly, share it with your boss when you ask for that next raise. This awkward and uncomfortable situation will only last a few minutes, and it may result in thousands more dollars in your bank account.

Kathlyn Hart is a financial empowerment coach and a motivational speaker who supports ambitious women earn more. Her salary negotiation boot camp “Be Brave Get Paid,” which teaches women how to confidently own their worth and ask for more, has helped women increase their income by an average of $15,000.  In addition, she is the host of The Kathlyn Hart Show, where she interviews entrepreneurial women about their journey from dreaming to doing.

This article first appeared on Create + Cultivate.


You might also enjoy…