As women, we have an incredible ability to talk ourselves out of asking for what we are worth. In my research, I’ve identified seven blind spots that trip us up when we are in the midst of negotiations. Even worse, they often prevent us from negotiating at all. One of the best ways to counter those blind spots is through mindset management. And what is one of the best ways to support a healthy, objective mindset? You guessed it: by surrounding yourself with fierce female friends who can tell you what you need to hear when you need to hear it.
Last week, I found myself preparing for a negotiation. As usual, I was following the process I teach other entrepreneurs in my courses. I knew what terms I was looking for – when I wanted to work, when I would be taking time off, the support I was willing to provide during off-hours, etc. But when it came to assessing my price range for the work, I fell into the same trap I always do.
My biggest blind spot is generosity
Generosity sounds like a wonderful personality characteristic. As a child, I remember my parents encouraging me to share – to give of myself more than others did. What seemed polite as a kid evolved into my deep need as an adult to always be the most generous person in a relationship. This has its drawbacks everywhere. As a spouse and a parent – I find it very easy to give to the point of exhaustion. This is also not a helpful attribute in a negotiation.
As a small business owner, being too generous can mean the difference between making a profit and taking a loss. For me, this manifests as throwing in extras during a negotiation – or deciding to do so before we even start the conversation. It also manifests as me providing over-the-top value in my programs for overly affordable prices. And last week, it manifested as my overwhelming desire to put in an offer at less than 1/3 of what I should have.
The power of fierce female friends
As I was preparing for the negotiation, I did the thing I coach women to do, and reached out to a friend of mine – someone in my circle of wisdom. She is also a business owner. She also struggles with the same imposter syndrome that we all do. But she sees me clearly. She helps me look at my offer with fresh eyes and reminds me of all of the nuanced value that I bring. She empathizes with my fear in a way that my husband just doesn’t understand. She reminds me of what a man would charge in my shoes. And she reminds me of the cardinal rule of negotiation: you never get to negotiate up – so start with something that feels uncomfortable.
After just a few minutes of conversation with her, my mind was back where it needed to be. I had clarity about my value. I calculated the range I’d be willing to negotiate within. I knew what a dignified price would look like. I made an offer at the high end of that range (more walking the talk) and was able to negotiate a fair deal for both of us.
Your circle of wisdom is a mirror of your qualities
Have you ever looked at yourself in a fun house mirror at the local carnival? Depending on the mirror, the person you see looking back might be 7 feet tall and rail thin or might look like a fertility goddess with curves for days. In a sense, when we think about our worth, it’s a little like walking through a fun house. Our sense of self is almost always distorted. But our circle of wisdom is never subject to that distortion.
Think about the women within your circle. The ones you trust with your vulnerable ideas and fears. What you do admire about them? What impresses you about their business, their lifestyle, their way of supporting you? What do you appreciate about them being in your life?
Guess what? They’d say the same things about you. Have you ever had that conversation?
The truth is that the 4-7 people closest to us influence us in significant, but often imperceptible ways. Right now, take out a piece of paper and write down the people in your closest circle. Are they giving you what you need? Are they challenging you to be a more effective entrepreneur? Are they supporting you in your journey to reach your goals? Because these are the people you should be spending the most time with.
And they’re definitely the people you want in your corner when you are preparing for a negotiation.
Negotiation is a Practice
Just like any skill that is uncomfortable, negotiation gets easier when you practise it regularly. Start small and in low-risk situations, and you’ll be negotiating in all areas of your life, business, and community before you know it. Join me between May 30 and June 3 for Negotiating Life: 5 Day Challenge. Click here to learn more and register. And be sure to register below to ensure you never miss out on my negotiation articles.