When it Comes to Negotiating - How Badly do you SUCK?!
And how badly do I suck?!
I am glad you asked!
When it comes to negotiating my clients’ interests, I am kick-ass, thank you very much. I took a course in negotiation skills years ago. It taught me that the best negotiators are well prepared, anticipate the other side’s interests, are clear about their clients’ best and worst outcomes to a negotiated solution, and all the things.
People describe me as assertive, passionate about my clients’ interests. Just this past week I got this message from a client I will call Dave:
"Val, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are such a wonderful person. You were excellent today."
And another from someone I will call Beverley:
"We really appreciate your hard work and can see that you poured your heart into helping us. Many thanks from all of us."
So, yeah, if you are my client you are in excellent hands! I know this deep in my bones and without question.
And then there is the part about negotiating on my own behalf . . .
For years I totally SUCKED at this skill!
Then, I thought I had it handled, only to realize I STILL SUCK at this.
Historically, whenever I went out for lunch with friends, it was me who always picked up the cheque. I gave raises to staff who did not deserve it. I paid for everyone’s accommodation when we went skiing, even though many of the people with us made way better money than me. I had a husband who stopped working and refused to get a job. I supported him entirely for more than 10 years.
Without getting into all the reasons why (like my family of origin where we always got along at all costs, my working-class background - who the heck am I to ask for this? Or, the fact that I hate interpersonal conflict). In my adult life, I have consistently been so generous that I have not honoured myself at all when negotiating with others.
I thought I was just being “generous” of heart and spirit.
I have to call BULLSHIT on myself. The truth is that I was too chicken to negotiate on my own behalf effectively. About anything.
After I transformed my law practice, read business books, got a coach, and had a dedicated spiritual practice I started to honour myself.
I started small. I allowed others to pick up the lunch cheque. I got others to contribute to holiday accommodation. I said “yes” when people asked to contribute to a large meal I was making. I got rid of the free-loading husband.
I thought I had it in the bag and that I had now learned to honour myself in my relationships and honour myself in my negotiations.
I had not realized how little progress I have made.
I STILL SUCK!!!!!!
The hard truth is that even now, when I am negotiating on my own behalf, I STILL duck out of the discomfort of standing up for myself and make terrible deals for myself.
This is not just noticeable to me.
My friend James recently said to my friend Lisbeth, “Why is it that so many people take such advantage of Val.”
James! Thanks for asking! The reason?! Because I LET them!
I will even go one step further and say that I have continued CREATING relationships where people expect a lot from me. I mean a lot. They are also not used to me asking them for much of anything.
My sucky negotiating has shown up not only in my law practice but all over my personal life. The result?! Here are some recent scenarios:
Those scenarios all relate to me, a person that almost everyone would describe as tremendously assertive and very strong.
The consequences of those scenarios are not financial consequences, but personal. I have started feeling resentful as HELL. I am ANGRY at some of these people, and yet they have ZERO idea. I am the one who did not stand up for myself.
A mentor of mine, also noticing this “generous” habit said recently, if you get this Val, it will be LIFE CHANGING.
So, I am committed. I am committed to having a conversation with each of these people despite being very UNCOMFORTABLE at the idea.
I have arguments swirling around in my head and listing all the reasons why I am entitled to ask for change.
So, where in your life do you suck at negotiating? What steps will you take to honour you?
In this Episode: