5 Tips to Overcome Anxiety in Negotiating


For many, negotiating is scary. It’s intimidating, uncomfortable, and puts us right in the path of potential rejection and ensuring embarrassment. However, letting your nerves get the best of you, and failing to negotiate, could really cost you (literally).

When it comes to negotiating anything, particularly salary, overcoming this fear could lead to greater income and thus greater job satisfaction. So, rather than back down from a pay bump simply because you’re nervous, follow the steps below to confidently request a higher income.

Why Do We Fear Negotiation?

In order to overcome the fear and anxiety that often accompany negotiation, we must first understand why it makes us nervous in the first place. There are a number of reasons. If you’ve ever negotiated or even considered negotiating, you’re probably familiar with these:

  • Fear of losing the job or job offer: We think that, should we counter a salary offer or request an increase in pay, we may end up without any job – or offer – at all.
  • Lack of confidence: Requesting more money requires self-assurance and a no-back-down attitude. For many, their self-confidence isn’t great enough to feel comfortable confronting a superior on this issue.
  • Seeming Greedy: When the first salary offer on the table meets our original expectations – or even surpasses them – we don’t think negotiating is necessary or justified.
  • Lack of negotiation skills: Few of us have been trained, coached or mentored in the art of negotiating. We fear that we’ll do it wrong or seem incompetent to the person we’re bargaining with.

How Do We Overcome the Anxiety to Negotiate?

Now that we’ve located the roots to our anxiety, the feelings that steer us away from the bargaining table, we are ready to move forward. The ability to squash your fears could result not only in greater pay, but also in greater respect from your boss.

Here are some tips that will help to prepare you to negotiate with confidence ablaze:

1. Do Your Research

Researching and understanding what qualifies as fair pay for someone with your position, education and experience in your area will provide a definitive foundation for your negotiating efforts. There are a number of outlets that can help you to determine what you’re worth.

Not only will researching give you a reasonable salary to work with, but it will also demonstrate to your employer that you’re capable of researching and backing your request with concrete numbers and examples. While going in blindly with a random salary might work out for you, it also might leave you looking foolish.

2. Find a Mentor

Mentorship is a beneficial tool in the general working world – not just when negotiating salary. When it comes to bargaining for more pay, learning more about the process from someone who has done it in the past could help to boost your confidence.

One aspect that may fill us with uncertainty is the thought, “Is this how it’s done?” and “Am I doing this right?” Asking a mentor ahead of time will reassure you that you know what you’re doing and what to expect from the negotiation process.

3. Practice Negotiating

There are a number of places in which you can practice negotiating – you don’t have to start in the workplace. Sculpt your skills in other settings, in places where you don’t have as much to lose.

Negotiate at the farmers market, at the neighbor’s yard sale, when shopping on Craigslist. While these circumstances hold significantly less weight than a salary negotiation, they will help you to become familiar with the foreign – generally uncomfortable – feelings that accompany the bargaining process.

4. Know That You’re Not Alone

Sometimes it can feel that everyone else besides you is earning more money. Or maybe you think you need to be pushy, bold, and forward to get what you want. But in fact, negotiating salary is not something that most people consistently do at every job.

A 2013 study by Salary.com showed that only 31 percent of surveyed employees said they always negotiate salary after receiving a job offer. That means that 7 out of 10 sometimes leave money on the table.

However, we shouldn’t be mistaken into thinking that all employers will be turned off – or even surprised – by negotiation. In fact, according to surveyed individuals, 84 percent of employers expect applications to negotiate salary before accepting the job. According to recruiter Margaret Bui, “Very often people who at least attempt to ask for a higher salary are perceived more positively, since they’re demonstrating the skills the company wants to hire them for.”

So while you may feel like you’d be overstepping or would be the only one negotiating, you wouldn’t be. Your confidence to negotiate may even impress the boss.


5. Combat General Anxiety

Anxiety in any situation – be in negotiating, public speaking, test taking, etc. – is fairly common. When you are faced with apprehension and nervousness, when you’re planning to negotiate salary or otherwise, consider following these tips to calm yourself before negotiating:

  • Concentrate on breathing deeply
  • Get adequate rest/sleep
  • Calmly talk to yourself
  • Think of something else
  • Adopt a healthy diet
  • Exercise

At the end of the day, negotiating salary will probably always be something that stirs up feelings of discomfort and unease. By following the above steps, you won’t let those feelings stop you from getting the salary you deserve.

Sarah-LandrumThis has been a guest post by Sarah Landrum. She is a PSU grad, marketing specialist, and freelance writer with an interest in career and business topics. She is also the founder of Punched Clocks, a blog about finding happiness and success. Subscribe to her newsletter and follow her on Twitter @SarahLandrum for more great tips.