Salary Negotiations – An Uncomfortable Game


Salary Negotiations – An Uncomfortable Game

I have always felt terrible at prospect of negotiating my salary. The first time I had to do it, I felt that my identity was attacked, like I had been ripped open and was completely worthless. I couldn’t explain why, as it was more a talk than a real negotiation and – from a rational point of view – there was no evidence my boss was trying to screw me over.

“Being screwed over” was the key concept that hit me: While I usually am a trustful person, always giving people the benefit of the doubt, when it comes to salary negotiations I become the opposite. I distrust the other person and firmly believe that they will try to screw me over.

Where does this feeling come from? I hadn’t had so many bad experiences with this kind of negotiations. In fact, I had none. Maybe it is because we are generally taught that we have to ask for much more than we want to avoid being screwed over in salary negotiations. Nobody teaches us to tell our employer to stop playing games if they want to have loyal employees. We are taught to play along, requesting a higher salary than what we can reasonably get, hoping that in the end we will get a fair offer.

To me, the reason why we feel so bad playing this game is because we dread being screwed over, not because we want to leave with the highest salary we can possibly get.

I have come to realize that my distrust in salary negotiations is unhealthy because it appears automatically and it is not based on real experiences. The problem with unhealthy distrust is that we can’t rely on our gut feeling because we are blinded by making projections and assumptions. When it comes to human interactions, however, gut feeling is essential because it comes from our subconscious, which can process information much quicker than our conscious thinking. When our gut feeling is blinded, however, we run the risk to misjudge the situation and make bad decisions.

Knowing why salary negotiations make me feel so uncomfortable is already an improvement. This awareness might help me retrain my gut feeling, enabling me to set my own rules because I prefer to put my cards on the table instead of playing games.

How do you feel about salary negations? Do you like to play along the game or would you hope for a more transparent, open and trusting conversation? Do share your thoughts in the comments below our via PM!

Written by Julia Heuritsch | Last edited: 14th June 2022

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