7 Tips for Overcoming Salary Negotiation Fear

It doesn’t matter if you’re an intern, Nobel Prize winner or a paid actor who knows how to pour on the charisma. Negotiating salary can be daunting to the most courageous of souls, due to the many pitfalls. But it doesn’t have to be. Here is a defining moment from an early Albert Brooks movie.

In my last blog post, I noted how a CareerBuilder survey showed more than half of workers don’t even negotiate for better pay when offered a job. Introverts have an even bigger mountain to climb when facing salary negotiation fear.

When you’re more reserved, the stronger job market and increased leverage still isn’t enough to transform you into a virtual Cuba Gooding Jr. in Jerry Maguire—allowing you to blurt out, “Show me the money!” (Frankly, that tactic would not bode real well, anyway!)

I recently shared with Psychology Today some negotiating tips that do work when you’re introverted … or simply dread salary discussions:

  1. Focus on the facts

When you sense a company is close to making an offer, make sure you’ve carefully researched market trends. There’s no shortage of salary data online, so have it committed to memory. The more you understand your value, the easier it is to speak with authority when you counter.

  1. Deploy your people skills

Introverts do tend to possess emotional intelligence. Being a good listener who observes situations actually gives you a leg up here. This is a great time to point out little things you noticed during interviews, such as how your skills can benefit certain projects.

  1. Ask open-ended questions

Encourage conversation through the right questions, so you can learn more about the hiring manager’s perspective: “Can you describe further the compensation program you foresee for this position?” “What criteria is included when evaluating staff for your merit bonus program?” Open-ended questions such as these require more thought and input from the manager, and give you a better sense of how much wiggle room you have with negotiations.

  1. Use quiet confidence

Above all, don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. Show sincerity and confidence in the data that backs up your request for a higher starting salary. But don’t feel you must transform into a hard-nosed negotiator.

  1. Confront the worst-case scenario

Part of the battle is just preparing yourself for the worst. Often, the reality of negotiations is far better than whatever you’ve imagined could happen.

Is the hiring manager really going to fume and say, “I can’t believe you asked for more money! I’m so insulted, this conversation is over!” Not likely.

  1. Practice your approach

Introverts typically fear the unknown, so one of the great ways to counter that anxiety is through preparation. Sit down one-on-one with a friend or family member and play out a negotiation.

  1. Know your bottom line

Give careful thought to what you will and won’t accept in the final offer. That way you can confidently accept or decline in line with your expectations. Remember that if you’re presented with a surprise scenario, you can always diplomatically bide time for a couple days.

For more advice on dealing with salary negotiation fear, read my full article on Psychology Today.