Most People Don't Negotiate Due to Fear & Lack of Skills

by Staff - Original publish date: January 18, 2012

Negotiating is not easy. And, for many people, not at all pleasant. Complicating matters even further is the difficulty involved with negotiating your own self-worth following a job offer.

Most people know how much hinges on salary negotiations and performance reviews. Failure to argue your self-worth often means leaving thousands of dollars on the table, and can potentially cost you millions of dollars over the course of your life. Yet our research found nearly one-fifth of workers never negotiate after they're offered a job.

The question is why? With so much on the line, why are people so hesitant to negotiate something like salary, which plays such a huge part in their lives? interviewed nearly 2,000 people to find out the answers.

How Many People Actually Negotiate?

Thirty-seven percent of people always negotiate salary while 44 percent say they negotiate occasionally.

Just more than 18 percent---nearly one-fifth---of people we surveyed never negotiate their salaries. Ever. Which is surprising considering studies have shown an individual who fails to negotiate a first salary stands to miss out on more than $500,000 by age 60.

Many experts agree most companies expect a job candidate to negotiate, so it can't hurt to respectfully and wisely try to get a higher number. After all, if you don't argue your own worth then who will?

How Many People Negotiate During Performance Reviews?

Our survey results indicate employees are much more willing to negotiate the initial job offering than seek a raise during an annual review.

Only 12 percent of people make a point to always negotiate during a review, while a whopping 44 percent say they never bring up the subject of raises. The majority are somewhere in the middle and say they sometimes negotiate during an annual review.

But if you've performed admirably in your job and present a solid case for a raise to your employer, asking for a raise during your review can often yield a bump in pay.

Are You Apprehensive About Negotiating?

Not surprisingly, people get fairly worked up about negotiating.

Nearly half---48 percent---of respondents said they are always apprehensive when it comes to salary negotiations, with another 39 percent reporting they sometimes feel that way. Only 13 percent claim to never get nervous regarding negotiations.

Click next to find out why people have so much angst when it comes to negotiating salary.

Why Are People Hesitant to Negotiate Salary?

Once we determined a fairly large percentage of our survey-takers wasn't negotiating or asking for a raise, we asked them why.

The biggest reason was fear. With a tip of the cap to today's economic uncertainties, 32 percent of respondents said they were too worried about losing the job offer if they tried to negotiate. After that, 22 percent said they didn't ask for more simply because they lack the skills to properly negotiate during the interview process. Eighteen percent said they find negotiating inherently unpleasant, while just more than 9 percent lacked the necessary self-confidence.

Other answers people provided were "I don't want to come across as greedy," "It never seems to make a difference anyways" and "Negotiation isn't always possible."

Women Are Less Likely To Negotiate Than Men

One of the most interesting aspects of our survey was the difference between women and men when it comes to negotiating salary.

While 46 percent of men claim they always negotiate salary following a job offer, only 30 percent of women report doing the same. According to statistics from, men are four times more likely to negotiate salary than women. And even when they do negotiate, they ask for less and subsequently receive 30 percent less than men.

Perhaps that's why 55 percent of women are always apprehensive regarding salary, while that number drops to 39 percent for men.

As to why they don't negotiate, men seem to have more fear than women. Thirty-six percent of men fear losing the job offer compared to 29 percent of women. However, 26 percent of women say they are not skilled enough to negotiate, which is higher than the 18 percent of men who say the same.

If You Don't Negotiate Now, You'll Regret It Later

Whether it's men or women, a vast majority of all those surveyed agreed the failure to negotiate salary at the outset leads to regret later.

Just more than 76 percent of all respondents said they regret not asking for more money during the initial interview. Even if the failure to negotiate was due to badly needing a job, it's possible that taking a job in which you're not completely satisfied could lead to resentment soon after being hired.

William Arruda, author of the book "Career Distinction," told in a podcast recently people should do their best to find their ideal job, even when there's pressure to simply get a job.

"The challenge with taking just any job is that you're not fulfilled and you don't have the greatest opportunity to deliver value. It detracts from your career."

Negotiate the Right Way

Negotiating is tough work and often stressful. It's understandable that people get upset. But most companies expect a little back and forth and there could be negative consequences if both sides feel regret following the job offer.

Use our Salary Wizard with 100 percent employer-reported data to research the proper pay ranges before negotiations begin.

If you're uncomfortable negotiating, check out our recommended reading on the next slide or hire a career coach to help you hone your skills. Even though it can be unpleasant, negotiating your salary is the only way to make sure you don't leave money on the table.

Recommended Reading (try an ebook)

The Salary Tutor: Learn the Salary Negotiation Secrets No One Ever Taught You

Secrets of Power Salary Negotiating: Inside Secrets From a Master Negotiator

Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1000 a Minute

Getting More: How to Negotiate to Achieve Your Goals in the Real World

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In

Get Paid What You're Worth: The Expert Negotiators' Guide to Salary and Compensation

Women Don't Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation and Positive Strategies for Change