Learning the art of negotiation
How do you get what you want without being seen as selfish or manipulative? How do you avoid being a doormat and giving in just to keep the peace? I had not been able to be assertive without being aggressive.
This is an aspect of my life I have always struggled with. In order to gain approval, I chose the soft option of giving in and then becoming more and more resentful and finally exploding and wrecking yet another relationship.
In personal relationships this is emotionally draining and devastating but in business relationships this makes the difference between being able to remain employed, or if self-employed able to keep your business going.
In business there is an added dimension for women. Although women make up more than half the workforce, very few have made it to the top in the companies they work for. There are still frequently assumptions that a woman who does reach “Mahogany Row” has slept her way there, or that she has aggressively demolished the competition, and/or abandoned her children and family in her selfish relentless pursuit of ambition.
You don’t hear these comments about successful businessmen.
Growing up in the 60s and 70s was confusing for girls. As a young woman, getting a tertiary education was desirable and women were starting to become more assertive in the workplace. But ... only up to a point. There was still the expectation that your primary role was marry, have babies and be a supportive wife to your husband the primary bread-winner. Finding the balance was, and still is, very difficult for many women.
When your self esteem is also low and you have not learned the necessary life skills to negotiate equitable relationships you become a resentful doormat.
In February this year I turned 60 and I made the decision to start becoming more clear and assertive about my expectations of myself and others. If I don’t know what I expect of myself and if I don’t convey those expectations to the people I live, love and work with, I can’t expect them to respect me.
It all sounds so simple doesn’t it? So why has it been so hard? After all I have been on my ADHD Coaching Journey for nearly 9 years. I should have had all of this properly sussed out by now. My personal relationships are much more balanced but my business negotiation skills are still a challenge.
Habits of a lifetime are tough to break. I also know that I am sensitive and caring and not wildly ambitious. I will never be able to turn away someone who is hungry or needs any form of support that I can give. Living in a country like South Africa with such poverty always makes me uncomfortable when wealth is flaunted and people ruthlessly exploit others.
I had also developed a fear of success. My life has been a roller coaster of doing something, becoming good at it and then withdrawing because I have been afraid to take the next step with confidence. Because the next step would have involved being assertive and making uncomfortable decisions.
This is my challenge for this year and I am happy to say that I am finally getting better at it especially in my business life. I am taking the time to analyse what I do, what skills and experience I have, and to value them appropriately. I am using time-sheets to calculate how long it takes me to achieve a task or a project. Based on our joint financial needs Dave and I have set goals about how much we need to earn to pay the bills and we have adjusted our hourly rates accordingly.
If I don’t value myself why should anyone else value me and what I do?
I am putting firmer boundaries in place and I feel more confident when I submit a quotation to a potential client, that I am offering genuine value at a realistic price. When they query the quotation I no longer roll-over and cut my fees. I am better equipped to negotiate a compromise on some aspects and stand firm on others. It feels good when they sign on the dotted line.
My ADHD Coaching Journey is not a static process but one of continuous discovery and growth.
- Last Updated: 29 June 2017 29 June 2017