This is a repost of an article by Eric Ravenscraft on Lifehacker. I've since lost the link but while I agree with the words, they aren't mine.
When you’re thinking about how much something costs, or your own salary, you probably think in terms of what that thing’s “worth” or what you “deserve.” However, there’s one key metric that trumps them all: what you’re willing to negotiate for.
As personal finance blog The Money Mine explains, negotiation isn’t just a tool you use occasionally to get a better deal. Negotiation determines what you get. It determines your salary, what you pay for a car, how much your insurance pays out, even your bills. If you’re willing to negotiate, you can change what you get out of life:
You aren’t seriously considering not buying that new couch? There is no tension for a potential lost sale. You wish to reduce the cost of your cable bill? You call the cancellation department, not the sales department... If you do not negotiate, you get what other people think you deserve. When you negotiate, you get a chance to telthem what you deserve.
There are occasions where you don’t have much power to negotiate, but you never know until you try. If you want to raise your salary, you have to start that conversation. Don’t wait around for your employer. If you want a better deal on your car, be willing to walk away. Learning to negotiate isn’t just a skill for salespeople and executives. It’s how you state what you think you deserve.