Today’s topic is negotiation and that might be surprising to you. Negotiation? How does that fit into all the things that we’ve been talking about? Let’s just take a deep breath with that. And exhale, just be right here.
So, what comes up for you in your mind when you think about negotiation? Is it about wanting to make something happen, is it about wanting to achieve something, maybe having to really stand up for yourself? Is there maybe even a notion of “I have to fight for something that I believe in”? Or is it more a strategic thing, like “I have to do the right things to get to the thing that matters for me”? Or – is it really a collaborative effort? What’s the objective? Is it to get what you want, or is it for everybody to get what they really need?
It’s an interesting concept to think about, because as a collective, as a community, I believe if we learn to negotiate well that really means that I need to learn how to listen really well. I need to understand what my conversation partner is really asking, and what their underlying needs are. I also need to be able to express my needs. So, there is a differentiation in between wants and needs. There are the things that we may think we want, and then there are some underlying needs. And there may be several ways of how those can be met.
I believe looking into negotiation really starts with looking at ourselves. Why? Because when you negotiate with yourself, how do you follow up on that? I’ve caught myself frequently in the past, and I’m not saying this doesn’t happen today anymore. I still catch myself doing that – that I say alright, I am going to do this thing and then I promise myself some kind of reward for it. Sometimes, I don’t follow through on my reward, because there is another thing that “I need to get done”. That’s not good for my self-trust, because that means next time I have that internal negotiation of “oh if I finish this then I get that”, part of me knows that I didn’t always follow through. Then that decreases my trust in myself when I negotiate with myself, so that’s no good.
As a first thought piece for this week I would love for you to reflect a little bit on “Do I really follow through on my promises to myself?”. Whether that is “tonight I’m going to make it to bed by 10:30 pm” or “If I finish this piece of work then I’ll take a break for 15 minutes”. Or “I’m not going to look into my emails before 10 am, so I can get some writing done”, or some other major piece of work that really takes my focus. Whatever little promises you make to yourself throughout the day, just check in. Are you a reliable negotiation partner for yourself? Just observe, there is no need to judge. I mean, it happens that we don’t follow through. The more we get aware of that, and the more we develop that commitment to ourselves to follow through on the small things, the better that will also translate on the larger scale.
For negotiations in other parts of our lives that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m sitting around a big meeting table. It can be with my partner, it can be with my child, it can be with a friend, with a family member. Every time we seek to come to an agreement, we could deem that a negotiation, even though it may be very light-hearted and it may maybe something that is actually very pleasant. So there’s no heaviness necessarily assigned to that. It’s more a perception of trying to come to a joint agreement on something that serves everybody.
A second piece for reflection is then “Where in my life do I negotiate?” Maybe it is in my work environment, maybe it is in my private life, probably actually in both of them at some point. Is there a way how I can bring a little more ease to that? When it does feel heavy? Is there a way how I can listen a little deeper? Can I always keep in mind that it’s really about us as a community coming to something that serves everybody?
I guess this week’s topic just weaves together a couple of the things that we’ve been talking about: What’s my intention for this? What’s the intention that I bring to this conversation? What are the values that I want to live into? How well can I be present and listen to you if my negotiation is with you – or to myself if my negotiation is really internally? And how well can I detect the underlying needs and find a way to make sure that those can get met?
I hope this serves you. Let’s take another deep breath here together.
The whole world is a constant practice for listening, for noticing our needs, for responding to what opportunities come up in the moment.
I want to invite you to be all in, and play all out.
Have a beautiful, beautiful day!