Do You Suffer from Negotiation Apprehension? Why Most People Don’t Get What They Want

Updated: Aug 27, 2018

“Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” John F. Kennedy

The truth is most people don’t subscribe to this maxim. Negotiations are intimidating. They leave people wary; often because they were ripped off, lied to, deceived or got the short end of the stick and didn’t get a good deal. Even if someone is willing, they’re usually not equipped to navigate the process effectively.

However, it’s a critical skill to hone. Just about every facet of our lives – whether it’s going after a new job, promotion, or higher salary or collaborating with a colleague, partner or friend – requires some negotiation.

Don’t Be A Statistic…

According to a survey of approximately 2000 people, 87% don’t ask for a higher salary out of fear they won’t negotiate well. The same survey found that 18% viewed negotiations as unappealing, while 32% felt intimidated by them.

Consequently, those who opt out of negotiating their first salary potentially forfeit more than $500,000 in additional income by age 60, according to the survey. Incredibly, nearly half (44%) never broach the subject of a salary increase. It’s pretty clear that our emotions play a significant role in determining if and how we negotiate as well as how we perceive those on the other side of the table. It’s clear most people are highly skeptical of the negotiations process.Karen Walch, a professor at the Thunderbird School of Global Management, spent two decades leading an ongoing negotiation study of her students. It included discovering how the students viewed negotiations – the actual process and levels of cooperation and trust within themselves and their counterparts. The study concluded that 40% believed they were trustworthy and cooperative. However, most felt their counterparts were only interested in winning. It doesn’t come as a shock then that many suffer from negotiation apprehension.

Why Fearing to Negotiate and Negotiating Out of Fear Don’t Work

Let’s take a look at the job and salary scenario.

You land an interview for your dream job. You think you’ve established a good rapport with the interviewer, presenting and articulating your best self. You exit the interview confident that you got the job. As you head home, you fantasize about the prospective employer calling you with an offer and how you’ll negotiate your ideal salary.