While we’ve discussed why every day is a negotiation, we haven’t touched one disagreeable fact: that unless you’re some kind of conflict-loving alpha type, the thought of negotiation might set your knees a-quaking.
And if you are a conflict-loving alpha type, you’re probably just in denial about the fear negotation brings up–It’s okay, you can be vulnerable to yourself, we won’t tell–but the thing is, we all have to negotiate. Whether it’s finally asking for a raise, deciding who’s lead on a project, or trying to get someone to click on your link.
Life, then, is a negotiation–and that doesn’t even have to be this gross, cynical thing. Let’s admit it: We’re constantly making deals, even with ourselves. So why’s it so scary?
As ever, Alice Boyes of Psychology Today has some insights. Let’s go over a few here.
Again with the Delphic stuff: It’s best to know your cognitive style before you enter into a negotiation (and it will help you with everything else in your life, too). For instance, Boyes says that anxious people are more pessimistic than usual and are more vigilant to signs of danger. So when you’re in a negotiation, you’ll be prone to thinking the other person is more powerful than you. But your slightly neurotic perception might not be reality.
To counteract this tendency, Boyes says to reflect on why you have some power in the negotiation. Maybe you have something they’d like to purchase. Maybe you are awesome at your job and deserve the raise. Maybe you recognize that you create value for this other person–and maybe you gracefully remind them of that.
Your associations with previous negotiations will color your current experience. Boyes asks you to consider if it’s possible to have an attitude other than OH MY GOD THIS PERSON IS TRYING TO RIP ME OFF. If such a feeling’s feasible–our jury’s still out on that one–entertaining that possibility can let some much-needed air into the room.
Speaking of ventilation, Boyes says that thinking about negotiating like it’s a sport or a game can be helpful for reducing the stuffy seriousness of the situation. It’s just a negotiation; you (probably) won’t die.
Also, think on this thing called anchoring bias, where the initial price predicts the final deal. For instance, if you open your offer with a price of $300, Boyes says, you’ll end up with a higher price than if you started out with $250. Use that to your benefit.
Negotiating is a skillset. To build the skillset, practice as much as possible. It could be something as simple as calling up your utility company and asking them to reduce your bill–Boyes says to hit them with a competitor’s price and see if they’ll match it.
Also: Ask for things. Feel like you don’t get enough face-to-face interactions with your boss? Ask them for a coffee, get on their schedule, and enjoy it. They will too. A little dogged kindness goes a long way.
Negotiation is scary because it’s unfamiliar. So let’s get familiar with it.