‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Get’: 12 Common Myths About Job Offer Negotiations

‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Get’: 12 Common Myths About Job Offer Negotiations

Did you know 60 per cent of people don’t negotiate their job offers – but a majority of those who do get an increase, and one in four get everything they ask for? Or that negotiating your pay from early in your career can lead to a difference of millions of dollars in wealth over a lifetime? 

As a negotiation coach, I’ve seen up close how investing a few hours in learning to negotiate for yourself – without losing relationships or goodwill – can lead to increases of 20, 30, or even 50 per cent on your initial offer. So here are 12 myths about negotiation you need to unlearn. 

Common myths about negotiating your job offer

1: The only good negotiators are aggressive bang-your-fist-on-the-table types

  • Reality: The research shows that collaborative negotiators (‘win-win’ people who spend time understanding the priorities of both sides, finding ways to create more value and then splitting the pie) consistently achieve better results than competitive negotiators (who are pursuing a ‘you lose, I win’ strategy). 

2: I can learn to negotiate by reading Getting to Yes or watching the Masterclass FBI negotiator course

  • Reality: These can be a great introduction to negotiation theory – but it’s an all-too-common experience to hear people say, “I read the book, but then I couldn’t execute it in the moment”. 
    • As most of us will know from experiences of public speaking, asking for a raise, or even just encountering someone in public who’s having an outburst – when we put our nervous systems under stress, we revert to our instinctive responses and patterns of behaviour. If you haven’t trained in ‘race conditions’ or learned to manage and tolerate the discomfort of negotiation, you’ll probably say yes to the first offer. 
    • This is why mock negotiations are a critical part of how we teach negotiation at our company Fuzzy (both doing them yourself and watching experts demo how they actually do it). 

3: Negotiation happens in the room

  • Reality: All negotiations (but especially salary and compensation) benefit from high-quality preparation. Particularly in situations where you might feel like your employer has more power, you want to be able to move away from a subjective discussion – I think X figure, you think Y figure – to an objective benchmark: “the market rate for this role is in the range of X to Y, and given my status as a high performer / the way I meet these aspects of the JD, I would expect to be at the top of this range”. 

4: You have to respond to offers on the spot

  • Reality: You can shift the forum and timing, especially with the right phrasing, to give yourself enough time for a considered response and the ability to make an argument for a better offer. 

5: “If I do a good job, I shouldn’t need to negotiate” 

  • Reality: Unfortunately, the truth is, don’t ask, don’t get. This is a common limiting belief – a belief that protects us emotionally in the short term but holds us back in the long term. It’s natural to prioritise avoiding short-term discomfort over learning to manage that discomfort and advocate for yourself. If you’re curious, here are 10 examples of limiting beliefs you may want to check out – you might find you hold one, or even many, of them! 

6: Negotiating doesn’t make a big difference

  • Reality: Your next employer will probably use your current salary as a baseline for your future compensation, and the earlier you increase your salary and savings, the more compounding you can see. These multiple forms of compounding can lead to a difference of millions of dollars over a career – so starting now is important! 

7: Negotiating just doesn’t feel like me – I’m motivated by being a team player or being good at my craft, and negotiation feels like it’s deceptive or inauthentic

  • Reality: You’ve probably never sat down and thought about the person you want to show up as at work – and it’s common to assume that what a negotiator looks like conflicts with the identity you’ve built (or others have built for you) in your work. 
    • In our course, we challenge the idea of being 100 per cent ‘authentic’ or ‘bringing your whole self to work’ and instead, we talk about being intentional about your professional persona – one that’s sustainable and effective for you. This can actually be really liberating and empowering across several areas of work (not just negotiations); releasing you from habits or behaviours that can hold you back.

8: I can’t get any increase due to banding or levelling within my organisation

  • Reality: There are many terms you can negotiate on besides salary alone. 
  • Reality: You can usually negotiate to reach the top of your band. 
  • Reality: You can often make a case for why your responsibilities place your role in a different band, or that the banding is out of step with the market, or that your role should be an exception (we demo how to do this when we teach negotiations for salary and remuneration). 

9: All good negotiators look the same

  • Reality: Theory might be similar everywhere – but our negotiation style should be unique, because you as a person and the context you operate in are also unique. 
    • Think about your idea of what a good professional is and get inspired. Whose style do you want to borrow from? My favourite style inspirations are Ben Chesky, Kara Swisher and Barack Obama! 

10: Negotiation is just about haggling from two different starting points to a final number. 

  • Reality: There’s a whole set of academic theories on how to break down a negotiation, how to choose a strategy, how to deploy different tactics and respond to different tactics, different negotiation styles, the impacts of cultural dynamics, and many other aspects of negotiation. It’s both an art and a science – and it’s as much about sharing information and increasing the ‘size of the pie’ as it is about ‘dividing the pie’. 

11: Delivery doesn’t matter – it’s all dollars and sense

  • Reality: Delivery, tone, and timing are all super-important – which is why it’s worth practising and learning from more experienced negotiators about how they deliver their most important messages! 

12: Negotiating a job offer means I’m likely to lose it – and negotiating a promotion or raise puts my job at risk

  • Reality: Investing in good people is an expensive business – and if a company has bothered to take you all the way through a hiring process, they’re unlikely to withdraw an offer if you negotiate respectfully and reasonably. As long as you know your ‘walkaway point’ and ‘aspiration price’, you’ll also have a good sense of how hard you’re willing to push. 

The bottom line is: negotiation is one of the most valuable skills you’ll ever learn, and the earlier you do it, the better! If you’d like more advice and resources, check out Fuzzy and follow us on LinkedIn, where we share lots of advice on these topics. 

Happy negotiating! 

Lead Image Credit: iStock

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