I had a particularly intense negotiation recently. I wanted to make a deal with the person on the other side of the table. I wanted to be a part of their business and I wanted it to work. I am a strong advocate of using feminine power to help me achieve my goals. This does not mean flirting over the negotiation table or rolling over. It means shapeshifting when beneficial, following the lead of my heart, and letting my intuition inform my process.
I am big on self-observation and as I scanned myself for the places I might need to adjust my thinking to something more supportive, I found that in addition to the wants above, I wanted the other side to be happy. This was a problem. We, especially women, often tie how good we feel to how pleased others are with us. Stop it. I’m not advocating that you seek to make others unhappy. What I’m promoting is that you let them handle their own feelings and you do the best you can to advocate for and protect your interests. Here are some tips to support you in taking care of yourself when you’re negotiating for yourself:
- Aim. Before you enter into negotiation, know what you want. Base it in reality and be fair.
- Ask for more. If you’re a woman, chances are you’ll need to gross your ideas of fair up at least ten, perhaps twenty-five (or more) percent. Women are notorious for not asking for what they could have gotten. Everything is negotiable. Make asking for more a rule. Over a lifetime, this could mean millions of dollars and so much more.
- Honor Yourself. Ask yourself: What do I need to achieve here to feel that I’ve done a good job taking care of myself? You must earn and maintain your self-respect.
- Stay in your center. When bombarded with analysis and persuasion it is easy to get pulled out of the centered space of your core. Watch for this. When you feel uneasy or less than fortified, remind yourself to return to your center. Connect with your heart. Let it tell you the truth about you: This is your life, you deserve to do your best and you matter. When you come from your heart energy, you will speak to theirs. This does not mean talk about emotions and your heart. It means hold that energy.
- Mind your business. Don’t take on the other person’s/entity’s problems. While this information is interesting and may be valuable in helping you assess the risk/solvency/efficiency of the entity you’re negotiating with, do not try to help/solve/compensate for their challenges. Let them come up with a solution and ask you for what they want, do not negotiate against yourself by offering solutions that take from you. Feel free to offer solutions that benefit you or do not impact you.
- Slow down. Situations can become intense and sometimes even frenetic. Ease the tension by slowing the pace of the conversation down. You don’t have to think fast on your feet (and risk making an impulsive decision). Do not allow yourself to feel pressured. You can slow everything down by taking as much time as you need to respond, slowing your rate of speech, and being comfortable in silence.
- Make silence your friend. Ask for what you want and be quiet. This is one of the biggest traps we set for ourselves. We ask for what we want and then talk ourselves away from it. Ask and be quiet.
- Be non-reactive. It’s okay if the other side gets upset. Sit back and let them. They’ll either implode in their own chaos (something you’re blessed to discover before you’re involved in any sort of committed business relationship) or they’ll work through it and then you’ll move on. Pay close attention to how the other side behaves. This is like dating, you’re getting an idea of what your professional marriage will be like and how they will interact with others. This matters.
- Let go. Be willing to agree to part on good terms with no deal. If you cannot reach an outcome that upholds your sense of integrity with yourself, let go. Share your unwillingness to fail yourself with the other side, most people will understand and respect this. If they have room to move your way, they usually will.
- Do it for someone else. I don’t like this one, but even I do it. Women can often negotiate for their children, family, or friends more easily and better than they can for themselves. I would prefer that we all feel so empowered, confident and deserving that we negotiate that way for ourselves, but until you’re there, dedicate your negotiation to someone or something else that you feel protective over. In my negotiation, I dedicated it to you, my sisters. I had no choice but to stand in the place of calm confidence and steadfast advocacy of my best interests because I refuse to live with the knowing that I rolled over and failed to uphold the values I promote to you and the good I believe we deserve.
At the end of the day, I came away feeling that I’d done my best given the circumstances. My ego still haunts me saying I could have done this or that differently, but my heart says we can live with this.