The Negotiator Magazine

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Why Don’t People Get Paid What They’re Worth? (And Some Ideas About What To Do About It)

Deborah M. Kolb, Carol Frohlinger, and Judith Williams

Why don’t people get paid what they are worth? We tried to learn more people’s attitudes toward salary negotiation and their experiences with it. We surveyed over 500 women and found that the sample was split — 50% assess themselves quite positively and are generally satisfied with their negotiation efforts. The other 50% were not so positive about either themselves or the results of their salary negotiations. From the comments respondents provided, a certain pattern emerges that helps us distinguish what likely makes for successful negotiation and where the problems lie.

Judging from the responses, negotiating about salary is not something most people like to do. In fact, most of the best experiences people reported having in salary negotiations were situations where they didn’t have to negotiate at all!

"I asked for a certain salary and they gave me $10,000 more."

"I got a higher than expected salary without negotiating."

"The best experience was when I said, ideally I would like X, but pay me what you think I am worth and they far exceeded what I really wanted."

Obviously, deciding not to negotiate did not consistently yield such positive results.

" I asked for a salary which was below the amount that I was worth. I realized after I had been in the position for about a month, that I was more qualified than most of the people that I worked with, although they were at a higher rate of pay."

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