April 04, 2012, 8:30 PM — Maybe it's the fear of rejection or the daunting prospect of a one-on-one with a boss, but one thing is clear: People don't like to negotiate.
A new study from LinkedIn finds that when it comes to negotiating in the workplace, 42% of U.S. professionals find it uncomfortable. One quarter, in fact, admit they have never negotiated in the workplace.
"Ours is a culture where negotiating is not the norm, a factor made worse by people's current fears over the economy and job market," says Selena Rezvani, author of Pushback: How Smart Women Ask-and Stand Up-for What They Want. "Many Americans believe negotiating is essentially asking for an exception to a rule, which then makes their request a loaded affair based on 'deservingness,'" she says.
LinkedIn's study surveyed 2,000 professionals in eight countries. Globally, it found that 35% of people report feeling anxious or frightened about negotiating, while 34% said they feel confident. Just 10% said negotiations are exciting and 10% feel indifferent about it.
LinkedIn found that professionals from Germany and India have the most positive outlook: Twenty-one percent of Germans reported they are excited about negotiating, while Indians were the most confident with nearly half (47%) reporting they feel confident about negotiating.
"In other cultures like India, for example, negotiating everything from the price of a piece of fruit to the terms of your job are the norm," Rezcani says. "Indian culture allows for more aggressive negotiating where people actually expect you to push back on their initial offer."
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Professionals who fail to negotiate well, or at all, do themselves a serious financial disservice, Rezcani says. "When we don't negotiate our salaries, we leave thousands, even millions, of dollars on the table unclaimed. This not only affects us negatively right now, but drastically dwarfs the retirement savings we work so hard to accumulate."
But the drawbacks aren't just financial. They're directly related to career growth. " What's more, in my interviews with top executives, negotiation and conflict-resolution skills emerged as a leadership necessity," she says. "So, if we don't negotiate effectively at entry and mid levels, we may be branding ourselves as workers who aren't leadership material."
Rezvani offers seven tips to boost timid negotiators' confidence.
1. Consult your network. Rezvani says that your network is usually the most underused tool in a negotiation. Look to your LinkedIn connections for insight into your counterpart's motivations and style, and bounce ideas off them.