As a salary negotiation coach who’s also managed salary offers inside companies, I’ve seen just about every mistake people can make negotiating their pay. Here are 12 of the worst ones (my “dirty dozen”), along with expert tips on how to avoid them.

What's number 1 on my 'dirty dozen' worst salary negotiations mistakes? Approaching your negotiation like a cage match. Be collaborative to see better results! #jobsearchtips Click To Tweet


1. You approach your negotiation like a cage match.

Many folks believe negotiating their salary is a zero-sum game with one winner and one loser. Nope! My clients get great results by approaching their negotiations collaboratively and treating the person they’re negotiating with as a partner. Remember, you’re seeking an outcome that works for you and your potential employer.


There’s no doubt that negotiating pay can be stressful, but a simple way to ratchet down the stress is to practice what you want to say out loud. Because you’re likely to ask questions and make requests on a phone call, practicing out loud can mean the difference between stumbling over your words and sounding smooth and confident.


3. You listen to your Uncle Hank, who owned a business in the 1980s.

No offense to uncles everywhere, but unless yours has specific, related and recent experience with salary negotiations, you may not be getting the best advice. Seek expert advice and look for success stories.


4. You decide to wing the conversation.

Just like with any other important business meeting, you need to prepare for your salary negotiations. Do your research and practice what you want to say. You’ll be more confident — and effective — when you do.


5. You get hung up on the little things.

When negotiating an offer, keep the big picture in mind. If there’s a small difference in the benefits package from what you currently enjoy, it makes sense to consider offsetting benefits (perhaps the higher base pay makes up for the fact that you don’t have a gym membership discount) rather than trying to negotiate each thing.


6. You don’t know when you’ll talk again.

If your recruiter or hiring manager needs to get additional approvals before changing your offer (which happens often), make sure to set a follow-up date and time. When you don’t know when the next contact will be, it’s easy to make yourself crazy wondering why you haven’t heard back.


7. You’re unclear about what you want.

I always advise clients to take time to figure out what’s important to them in an offer before they start negotiating. Knowing what’s important — and what you’ll ultimately settle for — creates clarity so it’s easier to make your requests.


8. You spend two minutes reviewing your offer.

There’s a reason your prospective employer sends you an offer letter and benefits information. They expect you’ll read it and understand it. When you don’t, it’s easy to miss things that you may want to ask questions about or negotiate. You simply must know what you’re signing up for.


9. You give up your power so they’ll think you’re ‘nice.’

Employers do expect that you’ll negotiate your offer. If you’re avoiding negotiations because you want people at your new company to think you’re nice, though, you’re giving up an important opportunity. You’re in a far better position to negotiate your pay before you accept your offer than once you’re an employee. And when you’re collaborative yet firm, you’re more likely to get what you ask for.


10. You have a meltdown in the middle of the process.

It’s true: Negotiating your offer can be an emotional and stressful process. But there are things you can do to make it less so. Follow the advice in this article, for one. And know that your ability to stick with the discomfort inherent in the process will impact how well you do. Remember, it won’t last forever!


11. You accept the offer on the spot.

While it’s certainly tempting to do so, especially after a long and involved hiring process, never accept a job offer on the spot. You deserve the time to carefully review all of the materials in your offer packet (see No. 8 above) so you can ask questions and negotiate points that are important to you.


12. You take things personally.

My best tip for successful salary negotiations? Don’t take them personally. It’s a business transaction. And the amount an employer is willing to pay says a lot more about how they value the work than about how they value you as a person. Getting a bit of emotional distance from the outcome will allow you to be far more effective in your negotiations.


When you avoid the salary negotiation “dirty dozen” by being collaborative, prepared and intentional and you don’t take things personally, you’ll feel better about the process. And you’ll likely see much better results.

This article originally appeared in Forbes.