Who’s winning when you negotiate with yourself?
The good news is, this is not a “you can have it all” piece. It is, rather, a “you can have what you want” piece. In our exploration of making the right choices for you and defending them, we may even wade into the waters of self-actualization and getting over that squidgy feeling of being selfish.
Are you still with us? Great!
You engage in hundreds of negotiations every day. Establishing deadlines. Asking a colleague for a favour. Addressing conflicts around the table. Your brain is constantly engaged in evaluating situations, deciding on the best solution, and then haggling over terms. Although it can feel like a chore, negotiation is necessary work that requires courage, consistency and the acceptance that you’re not always going to be liked.
This is especially true when negotiating with yourself. What makes self-negotiation so hard is that you know your triggers and you have too many blindspots, so more often than not, it’s going to be hard to have honest dealings with yourself. Add to that the social conditioning that makes you put the needs of others before your own and that pesky need to “be nice”–and your odds of getting a fair shake are lower still.
And yet, as Erica Ariel Fox, lecturer at Harvard Law School and author of “Winning From Within” reminds us, “the most important negotiations we have—the ones that determine the quality of our lives and the impact of our actions—are the ones we have with ourselves.” How can you ensure that negotiations with yourself are less biased and will result in solutions that are more aligned with your wants? And more importantly, how can you shake off that guilt that inevitably comes with putting yourself first?
Practical wisdom suggests that you apply the same tactics used to manage co-workers to yourself.
Let’s take an example that we’re all familiar with. You’ve heard about a position opening in another department. There’s a little more money involved and you’ll get the challenge you need to take your skills to the next level. But you’re going to be “abandoning” your current team in the middle of a big project and (here comes the Inner Critic) are you really ready for this? You know you need to say yes, but the risk for failure is taking your blood pressure through the roof.
What would you tell your work bestie at this point? “Say yes and figure it out later. Take some online training to brush up on skills you may need. Commit to asking for advice when you need it. You’re more capable than you think!”
No, really, think about it. Why else were you yearning for a bigger challenge in the first place? It’s because somewhere, deep inside, you know that you already have the instincts and knowledge to make the leap. The negotiation is now happening between you and your fear. You know what’s right for you and your career path, so end this negotiation with your fears and move on up.
Even if you try and this opportunity doesn’t work out, don’t let the outcome spoil your enthusiasm for another opportunity. Negotiating with yourself gets easier every time, but you need to stay committed to the goal—being clear on your needs and acting as your own best advocate. You have as much a right as the next person to pursue your ambitions and take up space. Accepting that truth and integrating it into your internal negotiations will unlock the abundance you seek, both personally and professionally. After all, if you don’t believe in and campaign for what you want, who will?