The Biggest Mistakes People Make When They Negotiate

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Whether you're asking your boss for a raise or buying a new couch off Craigslist, the most common negotiation mistakes can cost you a lot of money. They can also compromise future opportunities to advance your career and get what you want. Yet since negotiating's not a skill that many of us are formally taught, a lot of us make these errors.

A lot of the negotiation mistakes people make involve not knowing their own worth. We may feel like we're imposing on someone by making ambitious requests. But as long as you're respectful, there's nothing wrong with aiming high and asking for something you may not (or even probably won't) get.

Unfortunately, women can be especially concerned about judgment when they negotiate, and they're not making it up: People really are more likely to view female negotiators negatively than they are to view men this way. Whether or not we negotiate is totally our call, and the decision may depend on what kind of reception we think we'll get. But if we do choose to negotiate, there are some ways to increase our chances of getting what we want — and some ways to sabotage them.

Here are some of the biggest mistakes people make when they negotiate, according to experts.


Negotiating With Yourself First

Ask for all of what you want (and think is reasonable), not a watered-down version that you think will fly. "If you aren’t hearing the word 'no' occasionally, then you aren’t asking for enough," Linda Swindling, JD, author of Ask Outrageously! The Secret to Getting What You Really Want, tells Bustle.


Accepting Whatever The Outcome Is

Along with hearing "no," you shouldn't be afraid of saying it, says Swindling. Just because someone won't budge on their offer doesn't mean you must accept it. So don't commit to something you'll regret later. You can always walk away.


Not Asking Questions

Before negotiating with someone, figure out what they want so you know where your leverage is. "Ask open-ended questions to discover each party's interests," says Swindling. "Different people think, communicate and are motivated differently. You can’t anticipate all the reasons people believe or act as they do. Their needs, wants, and desires often differ from yours."


Claiming You Know More Than You Do

If the person you're negotiating with asks you a question you don't know the answer to, it's OK to be honest. Instead of trying to show off your own knowledge, keep asking them questions to get more information. "The more the other side talks, the better your deal can be," says Swindling.


Offering Everything You Can

If someone asks for something extra — for example, extra time in the office or an extra task — don't automatically agree to it. It could be a "bargaining chip," says Swindling — this is, an opportunity to ask for more in exchange.


Viewing The Outcome As Final

Don't give up after one failed negotiation. Your boss may not be willing to negotiate your salary right when you start a job, for example, but that doesn't mean they won't be open to a raise down the line. "The starting salary is a starting point," Deborah Sweeney, CEO of, tells Bustle. You can always "get a decent base salary and then discuss opportunities for growth and salary increases once you prove yourself."


Not Proving Yourself

A negotiation really starts before you sit down with the other person. If you want to get a raise, for example, you should be exhibiting "raise-worthy behavior," says Sweeney. "Bring in stats and information that showcase the hard work you’ve been doing and how it has provided an overall return on investment to the company."

Don't worry if you're guilty of these — most people suck at negotiating (I know I do). The good news is that the more you negotiate, the more confidence you'll build, and the better a negotiator you'll become.


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