Written by Katy Goshtasbi
Posted on: September 15, 2023
“I thought I could ask for what I wanted, but I didn’t”. I hear this phrase often. It’s generally followed by another phrase like “why am I so scared to negotiate”?
Negotiating for anything in our lives is not always easy. Self-advocacy and speaking up for yourself may seem so….opportunistic and self-ish. There’s a certain amount of confidence and assuredness required to be an effective negotiator. I’ve discovered that the easiest way for you to claim your confidence in negotiating is to improve your communication skills, bar none. When your communication skills are optimal, then you’ll find you have higher confidence and improve your negotiation skills and abilities. This is true for business communication skills or personally, too.
As with anything else in life, if you find yourself less than optimal in communicating while negotiating, you’re likely an ineffective communicator elsewhere, too. Does that describe you?
Your first bit of self-work is to spend 7 consecutive days establishing your communication baseline. When you are at work, home or even at the grocery store, and you say, “apple”, do others hear “apple” or do they hear “orange”? Why? Can you even tell? What could you have done differently to ensure that your intent is projected well on your audience? Are your tone and actual words direct or brash?
HOW DO YOU ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT IN A NEGOTIATION?
Asking for, and communicating, what you want in a negotiation presupposes that you KNOW what you want. I’ve spent 14 years coaching exceptionally talented, successful, smart people who can’t communicate in a negotiation because they just don’t know what they want.
They may know what they need, including the final outcomes needed for a successful negotiation, but they do NOT know deep down what they, themselves, want out of the negotiation. Nor do they know where they excel so they can bring “it” to their communication and negotiation table.
To answer this question fully requires deep introspection into your soul and a digging and discernment for your brand. You want to claim your confidence and get more of what you think you deserve? Then it’s time for you to step up and be the brave person I know you are by tapping into your best self and expressing yourself authentically.
Here are some things to keep in mind and steps to follow:
1. Negotiation is merely two parties coming together to form a relationship, aiming for mutual benefit. If it’s not mutual, it’s not going to work. Look for mutuality instead of tapping out or digging in your heals.
2. What scares you most about negotiating: getting your way OR not getting your way? Spend some time really feeling into this question. I think you will be surprised by what you find. Most of us are way more scared of being powerful enough to get exactly what we want, than the inverse. This fear of getting it all scares us into submission and represses feelings of anger and hostility that show up somewhere else; leaving us feeling out of control.
3. What you really want boils down to knowing a few key things about yourself like: what are your natural talents, values, business skills, goals, life purpose and ability to imagine where you want to be in one, three, five and ten years to start. Each of these areas deserves your deep, long-term review.
4. What are your emotional tendencies in negotiations? What is NOT said is more important in negotiations than anyone wants to believe. Upwards of 75% of all communication is nonverbal. Emotional Resonance Factor® is critical to your ability to negotiate by nonverbal communication. I am talking about your overall vibe, including your gaze, gate, stance, facial expression and visual presence. Whatever emotions you are feeling, odds are strong that we can sense these emotions directly nonverbally, believe it or not. So a good tip is to remember, based on my formal research, if your bad stress is high then your confidence is low and you are likely not emotionally resonating with your audience.
5. Compensation bias is a very real fact, as is general implicit and explicit bias in life. You can’t outrun these biases. However, you can know your own propensity to be hurt and shut down when you encounter these biases. Over the years, coaching equal numbers of women and men professionals, I have found that both men and women lack confidence in communicating and negotiating. Men hide this lack of confidence better, showing confidence when it comes to negotiating and asking for what they want. Men seem to fake that confidence better and are thus more likely to be perceived as a brand of leadership material. What happens when you sense a bias? Do you shrink back? Why? Do you assume it’s all your problem? What if it’s the other party’s issue and not yours? Next time you sense a bias against you occurs, stop and ask your unconscious mind what the real fear is, changing course slowly to recognize that it’s most often not you, it’s the other party!
In summary, negotiating requires you to be willing to advocate for yourself by communicating what you want with confidence, ease and grace. There will always be things you could have done better. That’s for next time you communicate and negotiate. Not taking the chance in the present will always make you feel angry, like you failed because you didn’t at least speak up.
If you’d like my help with this subject, email me and let’s talk. No one can become an overnight expert at negotiating and communicating. You don’t have to rush it. But we all need support and tools to get us to our final goal with ease and grace.