You negotiate with yourself more often than you think. You negotiate whether you’re going to get a workout in, what time you’ll wake up, whether you’ll pack a lunch. You tell yourself you’ll get better. You tell yourself you’ll improve. You negotiate with yourself all the time. For the purposes of the first part of this 3 part series, we’re going to focus on why you negotiate with yourself prior to a negotiation with someone else. So why do you negotiate with yourself?
You negotiate with yourself because you are afraid.
Fear can be a powerful ally or a powerful enemy. It all depends how you use it. We all fear something. The biggest fear we all face in negotiation is rejection. Rejection sucks! Remember the first time you plucked up the courage to ask that girl or guy out? Remember the first time you got rejected? It felt soul crushing, didn’t it? You know what it feels like to be rejected. And so the mind’s natural response is to try to protect you from that feeling. That makes sense. It hurts, your mind doesn’t want to hurt, it says don’t do it or change what you’re asking to reduce the likelihood of rejection. Fear is the mind’s natural reaction to a situation in which it perceives danger. And therein lies the key words. Perceived danger.
When you perceive danger in a negotiation, you begin to negotiate with yourself before you even begin to negotiate with the other party. You start telling yourself things like, “They’ll never take this offer, it’s too high/low, I should change it.”, “If I don’t cut this deal, then what….?”, “They’re going to laugh at me.”, “Maybe I should just accept what they’ve proposed?”. Don’t be embarrassed. We’ve all felt this way. Many of us continue to feel this way and think these thoughts.
“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. ” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
When you enter into a negotiation, the likelihood of you being in any real danger is very very very very low. But, that doesn’t stop your mind from perceiving that rejection is real danger, because many of the feelings are the same. This is an important distinction to make. Because, if you begin to realize that the fear you feel prior to a negotiation is only based on perceived danger, then that fear you feel begins to become a choice more than a uncontrolled response.
“Fear is not real. It is a product of thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice.” – Will Smith
Question: What’s most likely to be the worst thing that can happen in a business negotiation?
Answer: The other party says, “no”.
Think about that. You’re putting yourself through a ton of stress and the negative self talk because you’re afraid of, “no”. Seems silly now that you think about it, right? This is one of the reasons that we always ask for more than we expect to get. So now what? Well, now you know why you negotiate with yourself prior to a negotiation with someone else. And honestly, identification of the issue, in my estimation, gets you 70% of the way to solving it. Fortunately there’s hope and techniques to help you to master and sometimes even let go of that fear.
Next week we’ll discuss some of the concessions you make when you negotiate with yourself and the week after that I’ll show you techniques to control your fear and we’ll even discuss how you can let your fear go.