Starting as early as three years of age, I had chores. At three, I only had to make up my bed every morning. My mother didn’t care if all the sheets fell to one side. But I knew: get out of bed; make the bed. This is true today 🙂

As I grew older, the scope of my chores moved beyond my bedroom to the rest of the house. Some of which have shaped how I take care of my household today. But, there is one chore that I absolutely hated doing: ironing the linen. Ugh! I hated it so much that, even today, I avoid ironing anything, if I can!

Talking about chores may seem like an odd way to kick-off this series about negotiation. Until, that is, you take notice of a few parallels. For example…

  • When you don’t like doing a particular chore, you tend not to do it (a choice I couldn’t make growing up, but I can today); or,
  • You do it, but in an half-ass way.

Since it is March and the start of Women’s History Month, this is…

…the perfect time to talk about negotiation, and the economic and social impact of when women don’t negotiate.

You’ve likely heard about the research that says women will lose between $650,000 and $1 million over the course of a 45-year career simply because they didn’t negotiate their very first job, right?! This is staggering, in general. It is even more so when you consider how, what’s left on the table, doesn’t just impact a person’s life and lifestyle in real-time, but it impacts their ability to create and grow wealth over time.

So, for the next few weeks, I’m going to share my thoughts and perspectives about negotiation. You can expect that we’ll cover strategies and tactics; you can also expect a discussion that is very inward focused.

Because from experience and observation, the conclusion I’ve come to about negotiation is that it has just as much to do about your degree of self-awareness as it does the outcome about which you’re negotiating.

It’s my hope that everyone reading this (and the posts to follow on this topic) will find it beneficial. Especially if you’re the person that tends to shy away from negotiating because you feel you’re not good at it, or you simply don’t like to do it.

The Things That Get Lost

For a life-skill that you use in every area of your life (family, social and professional) everyday – it’s rather odd that more of us don’t more widely view negotiating as a form of communication.

This is a critical element of negotiating that frequently gets lost. And doing so can cause you to overlook a lot more, too.

Here are some specific examples:

1.  Expectations.

What are your expectations? Not just about the outcome that you desire, but also about what you anticipate the experience of negotiating will be? Is your default mode that negotiating equals conflict, where there’s just one option – win/lose – and you fear the other person (or persons) will win and you’ll lose? 

2. Confidence

Research has confirmed that self-confidence is gender-neutral. It’s also confirmed that the consequences of appearing self-confident are not. Given this, do you ever censor yourself when you’re concerned with how others may respond to your expression of confidence in what you ask for and how you ask for it? 

3. Boundaries

Boundaries guide all relationships. Some boundaries are implicit, others are explicit. But they are in all types of relationships – those that are transactional, as well as long-standing; those that are personal, as well as professional.

When it comes to negotiating, being direct and asking for what you really want is always going to be better, for all involved, than being circuitous, slowly coming around to your ask. And boundaries – knowing them and expressing them (even when you feel a little uncomfortable) – is one way to be clear and direct.

These are but a few examples of what can get lost when you don’t view negotiating as a form of communication – despite the fact that you and I negotiate everyday about things and issues, large and small. Despite the fact that everyday you negotiate with yourself and others.

These are what can get lost when you don’t view negotiation and communication as skills that go hand-in-hand so that you can get what you deserve.

These are what can get lost when you don’t first view negotiation as an exercise in greater self-awareness, and thus an inward focused exercise!

I try to remember (and remind others) of this: When you negotiate, the first negotiation is with yourself. Hence, the reason it is so important to embrace an inside-out approach and not let the idea that negotiation is a form of communication get lost.

Lessons From Your Youth

And this brings me back to chores: If, like me, you had chores growing up, you likely discovered what’s non-negotiable and what is. You also learned that some negotiations will yield favorable outcomes – and some will not.

When you’re negotiating, you are communicating your expectations, confidence, boundaries, and so much more. In essence, these same dynamics are unfolding when it comes to chores! ​

Who knew that the chores of your youth were preparing you for a variety of negotiation scenarios as an adult! Just be mindful, though, of the problem with approaching negotiation as if it is a chore you don’t like. Otherwise, you’ll end up doing all you can to avoid it, and/or you’ll end up negotiating in a way that may harm you.

I don’t want you to avoid negotiating because you feel you’re not good at it​, or fall into the pattern of doing it half-ass. Too much is at stake – in your personal and professional life. That’s why I believe it is better to view negotiation more as an opportunity where all parties get to communicate their vision, goals, expectations, and boundaries with the intention of coming to a “win/win” outcome.​

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