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5 Negotiating Myths, Debunked

As a negotiation coach, I’ve come to recognize the significant impact that one’s beliefs and mindset can have on their outcomes. That can work in your favor — with a positive mindset and data-backed statistics in your corner, you can enter negotiations confident in the value you bring to the table. Many people, however, hold self-limiting beliefs and inaccurate assumptions about negotiations that are tough to overcome and can hinder their effectiveness during the process. 

Through hundreds of conversations with people at all career levels, I’ve pinpointed some of the most pervasive negotiation myths that hold people back from earning what they deserve or advocating for their best interests. 

Here’s the truth behind the top 5 negotiation myths I’ve encountered, along with tips to reframe your thinking:

5 negotiating myths debunked

MYTH #1 - The offer is more than I was expecting, so I have no reason to negotiate. 

The Self-Limiting Belief: I shouldn’t negotiate if the initial offer exceeds my expectations. 

The Truth: It’s estimated that 85% of individuals struggle with low self-esteem. We tend to undervalue our worth, and thus underestimate our value. Unless you’ve exhaustively researched your market value, you may not have a strong basis for the salary you initially had in mind. 

The Fix: Do your research. Sites like Payscale and Glassdoor make it easier to gauge the salary range for just about any position you may be vying for. You can also reach out to past and present colleagues, friends, and other people in your network to get firsthand reports. Even if you’re being offered more than you expected: first, be sure that it’s in line with industry standards, and second, I tend to zero in on the upper 25% of salaries, using that as your target for negotiating. 

MYTH #2 - The company will pull the offer if I try to negotiate. 

The Self-Limiting Belief: Negotiating offers is a risky proposition, which could lead to the offer being revoked. 

The Truth: Like Bigfoot, only a friend of a friend’s roommate has ever seen this firsthand. Companies don’t tend to have a vast pool of qualified candidates they’d like to employ. If you negotiate professionally, the worst outcome is just, “we can’t offer more.” Best of all, that’s not even a bad outcome since you won’t be left wondering if you’ve left money on the table.

The Fix: Do your research and think through your communication plan. Are you asking for a number that’s within the market value range for your position? Even if it’s on the higher end, you’re still on safe, reasonable ground. Further reduce your risk and improve your likelihood of success by working with a trusted friend or advisor on your written counter or verbal discussions. 

MYTH #3 - I’m currently unemployed so I don’t have room to negotiate an offer.

The Self-Limiting Belief: My employment status dictates my market worth. 

The Truth: It’s possible that an employer may try and sneak a lower compensation package past you if you’re currently unemployed, but the truth is that most employers aren’t trying to bargain hunt diamonds in the rough and if you can demonstrate what the market rate is, they’ll probably pay it vs. lose a valuable hire.

The Fix: Anchor your salary expectations around your current opportunities. For example, a phrase like “I am exploring opportunities which are in the $150-185,000 range” indicates that you’re aware of your worth.

MYTH #4 - I’m bad at negotiating. 

The Self-Limiting Belief: Negotiating is an inherent skill that you either have or don’t have — and I don’t have it.  

The Truth: Negotiation effectiveness is a learnable skill! Want to get better at negotiating? Start negotiating. 

The Fix: Like literally any other skill, practice makes better. You have options: You can seek out opportunities to low-key flex your negotiating muscles — like on Facebook marketplace or with your friends or with your boss or with your toddler (kidding, your toddler will always have the upper hand). Or, you could hire a coach to proactively improve your negotiation effectiveness, as you would hire a personal trainer to improve your musculoskeletal strength.

MYTH #5 - Asking for more money is greedy.

The Self-Limiting Belief: I don’t want to be seen as greedy. 

The Truth: Quoting Gordon Gecko from the movie Wall Street: “Greed is good.” 

OK, well maybe we don’t base our philosophies on this guy, but a company isn’t going to pay you above your fair market value and worth. Therefore it’s impossible for you to be greedy. 

The Fix: Negotiate anyway. If you still feel greedy after the extra income starts hitting your bank account, donate the extra income to your favorite charity or venmo @jeremy-barnyak.

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