Overcoming self-doubt is the hardest part of negotiation for women

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Actual negotiation isn’t hard. Getting out of your own way – that’s where the real work lies.

I have been teaching and coaching women through negotiation for a few years, and regardless of the circumstances, the process is basically the same:

  • Figure out what you deserve, want, and need
  • Determine the value of everything on the table
  • Exchange proposals
  • Analyze and look for creative options to make both parties happy
  • Perfect, finalize and document the agreement

Whether we’re talking about negotiating with your kids for an equal distribution of household chores, negotiating for real estate, or negotiating with your boss for an increase in your flexibility or compensation, this is negotiation 101.

I’m not telling you anything you can’t already find on Google. If you haven’t ever done it, go ahead, Google “how to negotiate for x”. Whatever you find will come back to this basic framework – because this is the foundation of integrative (or collaborative) negotiation. Effectively, this is the craft of negotiation – understanding the variables, assessing value, following a process, and getting it in writing.

It’s not that simple for women

The art of negotiation – that’s something different. The art is about psychology, not process.

Negotiation is an essential skill that we apply across our lives. But it takes on a different meaning when we are negotiating for ourselves. As women, that meaning is often tethered by fear, self-doubt, and imposter syndrome. We are not just intimidated by an unfamiliar process, but it’s as if we are bound by unseen rubber bands, which maintain a tension that threatens to pull us backwards – into the safety of certainty, into the comfort of familiarity, into the shade of playing small.

To negotiate with confidence, we need to relieve the tension created by fear, self-doubt, and imposter syndrome. Unfortunately, this is where Google can’t help.

Only you can do the work.

You need to start with an understanding of negotiation, sure. But to do it effectively, to negotiate with confidence, that means overcoming (even if just temporarily) the feelings, thoughts, and worries that hold you back. They don’t just hold you back from actually going back and forth in a negotiation; they also weaken your motivation and your resolve to even enter the negotiation arena.

Right now, wherever you are in life, there is something that you could negotiate to improve.  What’s holding you back? Do you worry about what the other person will think? Do you fear retaliation or blowback? Do you think you would come across as too demanding, self-entitled, or emotional if you asked for what you deserve? Are you even able to articulate what you deserve? And if you are, do you believe it?

This is what lies below the surface when women are faced with negotiation. The process is the tip of the iceberg; it’s the easy stuff. The emotion, the guilt, the worry – that is indicative of the messy, beautiful, feminine humanity that lies within.

If you are ready to explore below the surface, to not just learn the skills, but uncover your truths, rediscover your voice, and strengthen your confidence, then you are the woman I had in mind when I started creating programs.

Understanding negotiation and practicing it regularly are key to being able to use the skill with confidence when you face a moment where it really matters. I was lucky – I’ve had mentors and role models who taught me how to overcome my self-doubt and stand proudly in the negotiation arena (admittedly, with knees still quivering and my voice still shaking). But I know that most women have not had those same experiences. That’s why I write this weekly blog, and that’s why I continue to grow the programs I offer, which are designed specifically for women.

Keep learning!

If you are interested in growing your negotiation skills, sign up below to get my weekly newsletter, which features information, education, and learning opportunities that can help you negotiate more effectively. It’s free and you can opt out at any time. In the meantime, you can read more of my blogs on negotiation.

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