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What’s the Hardest Thing About Negotiating? 4 Fears & Responses

What’s the hardest thing about negotiating? It’s no secret that negotiation can feel hard. When asked what’s the hardest thing about negotiating, these responses often come up.  

But negotiation doesn’t need to feel so hard. Read through 4 common fears and get some straight forward answers about them. 

What’s the hardest thing about negotiating? 4 fears & responses

Fear #1: 

What’s the hardest thing about negotiating?

If you said…

What if I’m not perfect in my job duties & have weaknesses?

Keep reading!

hardest thing about negotiating: not being perfect

This is normal. Let’s first call that out. We are in our careers to grow. So having areas of weakness & areas where we can grow and improve is normal and expected

The important part is how you’ve improved and grown in these areas (if it’s an essential or important part of your job). Showing growth is key. 

Be prepared to speak about this. Be prepared to share how you’ve shown growth, actions you’ve taken, and how you’re closing a skills gap (or maybe replacing it with a different desirable skill that’s needed). Showing growth is immensely valuable in the work world. If you have a plan to continue to improve, share that!

If you’re able to show how you’ve “made up’ for areas of weaknesses with strengths, that’s another item to focus on. If there’s an explanation or more information to give, then be sure to add that.


Experts go back and forth on whether you should bring this up first or let the other party bring it up, but either way be ready for it. And if you’ve shown signs of growth, improvement & success in other areas, that’s a huge win. You are a human and (most) bosses know that. 

One step further: Also, do you want to improve in your “areas of weakness”? Is that important for your long term career & life goals? Or is it just important in this position? Would you prefer to work within your areas of strength or is this skill something you want to master? Take this into consideration. This can also be an aspect you can negotiate – maybe you can negotiate this part *out* of your job duties if it’s not something you enjoy, want to excel in, or simply because you just don’t prioritize that skillset.

This is your job and your life. 

Having weaknesses and ares you want to grow in doesn’t have to be the hardest thing about negotiating. It’s a normal, natural process of one’s career.

Fear #2: 

What’s the hardest thing about negotiating?

If you said…

What if they say NO?

Keep reading!

This. Is. Normal!

hardest thing about negotiating: no

Ok – they might say no! Prepare for it!! Some experts say “no” is when the negotiation begins (I love that way of thinking about it). Seriously though, prepare for them to say no. This way it won’t feel as scary if they do. 

Is It the Go-To Response?

*Sometimes it’s the GO TO response. They might be prompted, trained or just told to reply no as a first response when someone asks. This is okay. They’re inviting your negotiation skills. This is when the negotiation begins. 

Stay Silent

If they say no, this is when you stay SILENT. Sit with it. Don’t say anything. Let them fill the silence & explain why it’s a no. 

This is the point where you’re learning good information by remaining silent & letting them explain their response. THis is good data about why it’s a no (or maybe you learned it’s actually a “maybe”). 


Be Prepared Prepared

*I know you’ve already prepared your counteroffer for these exact situations, so after you listen, repeat what they said and then tell them how you add value. 

Not The End

No is not the end. What makes the difference is if you know how to handle it or if you don’t. No is not the end. It really can be the beginning. 

Know that a “no” doesn’t have to be the hardest thing about negotiating. It’s a normal response to may negotiations and it doesn’t mean the negotiation has failed. It can mean quite the opposite.

For more information on what to do if you hear NO read the post Negotiation Spoiler Alert: They Might Say No – 6 Steps on How to Respond & Pivot

Fear #3: 

What’s the hardest thing about negotiating?

If you said…

Knowing if online salary & pay sources are any good

Keep reading!

hardest thing about negotiating

Short answer: Some are better than others.

Some sources say self-reported salary websites are flawed. (They potentially skew low or tend to not be as accurate). It IS something, though. Add it as a data point in your research.

Multiple Sources

Salary websites that get data from formal wage reports can be more accurate. Spread out your search. Don’t rely solely on one source, use many!

Ask Someone

Ask your colleagues or someone in the industry. The most accurate data you’re going to get is from a real person. Asking is becoming more common. It’s not the taboo it once was. People want to know – so they’re asking… and sharing!

Want more information on how to ask your coworkers how much money they make? Check out the post: How Much Money Do You Make? 5 Easy Ways to Ask Coworkers


Age of Information

We are in the age of information. You have an immense amount of data and resources at your fingertips. It’s true that the employer may have specific data, but you have more than employees have ever had. Use it to your advantage.

Wondering about salary sources doesn’t have to be the hardest thing about negotiation. Learn on the resources & people you have around you to learn as much as you can, then take it from there.

Fear #4: 

What’s the hardest thing about negotiating?

If you said…

Having the confidence to ask

Keep reading!

hardest thing about negotiating: confidence

This is the biggest myth of them all!  Research says that confidence comes AFTER you do the thing, not before! So… do the thing! Ask. Negotiate. 

People write off Nike’s slogan (Just Do It) as an overly simplistic idea. But… those that know, know that it’s genius. It’s really the only advice you need. 

Do the damn thing. The confidence will come later. 

“Often people think of confidence as something that the lucky few are born with and the rest are left wishing for. Not true. Confidence is not a fixed attribute; it’s the outcome of the thoughts we think and the actions we take.”

Dr. Margie Warrell

Take action! “With consistent effort, and the courage to take a risk, we can gradually expand our confidence (Warrell, 2015).

You have to take risks to build more confidence. It’s not the other way around. You don’t build confidence and then take a risk. So take the risk and negotiate. 

Either way it’s a win-win: “If things work out, then you now know you can do more than you think. If things don’t work out, you now know that you can handle more than you think. Either way, you’re better off” (Malley, Warrell, 2015). 

You’re better off taking a risk.

name it

Nerves are Normal

Feeling nervous is normal. Normalize it. Own it. Know that you may feel nervous and you’re going to ask and negotiate anyway.

Prepare as much as you can and you can even name the emotion in the meeting: “I’m feeling a little nervous, but this is an important conversation for me.”

People will typically be very understanding, especially when showing authenticity & honesty.

Having confidence doesn’t have to be the hardest thing about negotiating. Know that confidence is something you sharpen over time when you take risks. So take a risk & negotiate.

Read more about negotiating & mindset work in the post The First Step in a Negotiation Isn’t What You Think

The Hardest Thing About Negotiating

The hardest thing about negotiating can be to face your fears and negotiate. Sometimes we create scenarios that are worse or more difficult in our minds than they will truly be.

Keep in mind that many people all over the world, in companies all over the country, likely people you work alongside, negotiate all the time.

Negotiating is normal. Internalize it. And do it.

Sure, there are hard parts about it. But nothing worth doing is going to be completely easy.

If it takes effort, there’s probably something to gain out of it.

So, go negotiate!


*Article: Use It Or Lose It: The Science Behind Self-Confidence (Forbes, 2015)
Author: Dr. Margie Warrell
Contributor: Alex Malley, bestselling author of The Naked CEO

Disclaimer: While the contents of this post and blog come from research and personal experience, each experience, situation and/or person has their own unique circumstances. This is not negotiation, financial or any other form of legitimate or official advice from an expert. Each individual should do their own independent, comprehensive research. Negotiation, career and all other decisions are the sole responsibility of each individual or party. Details found on the blog and in individual posts are opinions and should be treated as such for entertainment purposes only. Read further disclaimer information on the Disclaimer page.

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