Stop getting paid less than you’re worth

4 things to remember before you over-compromise

Mary E. Akhaine | Avine
5 min readFeb 7, 2022
Photo by Charles Forerunner on Unsplash

I have suffered from the people pleasing syndrome all my life. I have struggled to stop the natural instict to compromise too much when I want to be accepted for something. Even as I write this article, I am under constant pressure from my mind every single time I propose an idea to someone that I fear will be rejected. The fear always goes like: “what if they don’t like my proposition and decide to do something else?” I keep wondering if I will survive the rejection, if this is the best opportunity I will ever have, and if I’m risking a sabotage by asking for too much.

This fear makes you drop your value. Drastically. Especially when it comes to negotiations about money.

I saw a post on Instagram a few days back where a HR personnel of a company said they offered a new recruit a salary about $60,000 below their annual budget for that role. Meaning that the pay the employee asked for was much lower than what the company was initially willing to pay them.

And this got me thinking —

We really miss a lot of opportunities when we don’t demand for what we know is our worth. And no, your worth is not what you think it is, it is the value you can offer based on the knowledge, skill and experience you bring to the table.

But it’s not always easy maintaining the high ground when we sit directly at the negotiation table. Especially when, like me, you are constantly scared of losing a deal if you ask for what the other party thinks is “too much”. As someone who has faced this countless times, I’ve had to ruminate and understand the patterns behind this thinking, and I came up with some solutions that have helped me so far to overcome the need to compromise. This way, you can settle for a deal that suits you.

1. Know your value in the industry.

Most times, the need to compromise comes because we are afraid that the other party will pick someone better for the job. A more affordable social media manager, a better graphic designer, or a more efficient copywriter who asks for the same charge. That’s why you need to know the skills of other people in the market and their own prices.

Remember, most people or firms exercise rationality when deciding who to work with. What exactly is the quality of your job? Are your prices much higher than others in the market, and what’s the justification for that? What’s unique about your work that others can’t do as well? You cannot just assume that you’re worth more “because you say so”. Who will listen to that?

If you can solidify your value as an individual and also compared to others in your industry, you will have more confidence at the negotiation table, and you won’t be willing to accept less pay.

2. Remember to gauge the workload.

So, we’re talking about a gig here — whether it’s a full time job or it’s a freelance thing, there is actual work to be done. Graphics to design, a video to produce, a product to make, articles to write, whatever the job is. Before stating your price, remind yourself of the energy you will exert to get the job done for this person/company, and imagine getting that amount on the paycheck when all that hard work has been done.

Will you be satisfied with that amount?

If not, then don’t accept it. It’s advisable to start at an amount much higher than what you’d prefer, so that after a lot is said and done, the final price would probably still be suitable. Why struggle with all that work, when the pay won’t be worth it?

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

3. Take your time to think

Negotiations usually favour the party that had more time to think and prepare their response. When a company offers you a pay range and expects quick response in a short period, they are usually trying to put you into a box that creates fear of losing that opportunity, making you more likely to accept their terms.

When presented with an offer, you need time to assess it.

Know what the job description/gig is about, how much others in the industry would charge for it, and what you’d really want to get paid. Time pressure can make you think irrationally and just decide on an arbitrary price. When in such situation, just think of your ideal price and charge much higher. While they are processing your offer and trying to give feedback, do your research and decide on the price you will accept.

4. Know when to say no

Not all jobs were made to be done by you. Sometimes, a company is just not willing to pay your worth. I’d advise you only accept if you’re starting off and you need some work in your portfolio, or if you really, and I mean really need the money.

There’s no use getting underpaid and then getting the work done with anger and frustration because you accepted a low bargain. Learn to respectfully turn people’s offers down when they aren’t suitable.

There will always be the fear that you won’t get another job soon, or a similar offer. Resist the urge to follow that fear. Instead, believe that you have the capacity to build your value and command better prices in the nearest future.

I hope that from now on, you’ll be more hopeful that with time and a few more opportunities, you’ll consistently get paid your worth.

Thanks for reading!

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Mary E. Akhaine | Avine

I talk about the habits, knowledge and skills that have helped my self-improvement journey as a content writer and data analyst.