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If Highly Agreeable, Are You Less Likely To Make As Much?

 Steven Losardo, AMFT

Negotiation of salaries is a tricky endeavor for anyone, but it can be a more complicated process for certain personality types. This dilemma is why understanding your personality characteristics can come in handy when it comes to essential decision-making processes such as asking for a raise.

Agreeableness as a personality trait.

According to the five-factor model of personality, agreeableness refers to one of five personality traits that we possess in varying degrees. The other four are openness, contentiousness, neuroticism, and extraversion. These are often referred to as “The Big 5” personality traits (Cherry, 2021).  People who possess high agreeableness have characteristics such as empathy and concern for others; they enjoy helping; and are caring, cooperative, trustworthy, and selfless.

Does agreeableness work in your favor when negotiating a salary?

People who are high in agreeableness tend to be easygoing; therefore, they are not likely to come across as too intense or presumptuous when asking for a salary increase, which can be of benefit. They also tend to have solid communication skills. However, people who are high in agreeableness may be more likely to go along with what the supervisor says instead of advocating for themselves and asking for what they deserve: a reasonable salary increase. The good news is that evidence suggests that flexibility and cooperation will be an asset when negotiating (Pon Staff, 2020).

Understand the concept of “Needed Power.”

When negotiating a salary, one must consider the concept of “Needed Power.” One should harness “Power to” skills such as flexibility, reflection, thoughtfulness, responsiveness, boundaries, and respectfulness. “Power over” attitudes, which include blame, intimidation, humiliation, and threats, should be avoided. For example, when negotiating a salary, threatening a supervisor is unlikely to get you that salary increase.

Mindfulness as a tool.

Try mindful breathing to keep your focus ahead of crucial conversations. Taking deep breaths and focusing on the here and now is invaluable when dealing with stressful situations. Not only can this be helpful ahead of time when planning the conversation you are going to have, but taking deep breaths and focusing on your five senses can assist you through the process, especially just before having the salary conversation.

Uniting your emotions with thoughts and take action.

Sometimes it’s better to go for it and not overthink. Even if your supervisor says no to the salary increase, it still looks good on your part that you took the initiative to ask. One important thing to note before requesting a raise is to create options ahead of time; that way, you are prepared for varying conversation outcomes. Once you have created options, then you’ll better be able to unite your emotions and thoughts.

Remove dissonance between thoughts and principles.

Something that may get in the way of your success is cognitive dissonance, which is when your thoughts and your beliefs are in conflict (Lawler, 2018).  An example of dissonance would be staying at your job even though you are aware that you are mistreated. Conflicting beliefs and behaviors lead to stress long-term.

In general, dissonance can be reduced in several ways: changing your current beliefs, placing less importance on the current views, or changing your behaviors. Actively choosing to recognize your worth and asking for a deserved raise can reduce dissonance.

The bottom line:

When asking for a raise, you may have to compromise and be open to changing your original viewpoint. Just remember your worth, and if you are unhappy with your current job and feel undervalued, it may be time to move on. Practicing mindfulness and focusing on the present moment may take some of the stress out of salary negotiations. With mental and emotional preparation and these tips, you are more likely to achieve a successful outcome.


Cherry, K. (2021). The big five personality traits. Retrieved from

increased-during-the-pandemic-google-trends-show on March 30, 2021.

Fishbane, M. D. (2011). Facilitating relational empowerment in couple therapy. Family process,

50(3), 337-352.

Lawler, M. (2018). How and why to reduce the cognitive dissonance you feel.

Retrieved from on March 30, 2021.

Huzar, T. (2020). Anxiety symptoms increased during the pandemic, Google Trends show.

Retrieved from

increased-during-the-pandemic-google-trends-show on March 30, 2021.

Pon Staff (2020). How much does personality in negotiation matter? Retrieved from does-personality-matter-nb/ on March 31, 2021.

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